I Never Has Seen Snow

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I Never Has Seen Snow (m. Harold Arlen, w. Truman Capote and Harold Arlen) — written for, and introduced by Diahann Carroll in, the 1954 Broadway musical House of Flowers

From the biography at HaroldArlen.com, Chapter 8:

Never having met each other, Arlen began work on the score with Capote while he was in Paris. The two actually wrote the show’s title song together over the phone. After three months of long-distance collaboration, Arlen and Capote finally met in New York in February 1954. It was not long after their first meeting that Harold became seriously ill with an ulcer. Arlen and Capote had completed three songs, “House of Flowers,” “I Never Has Seen Snow,” and “A Sleepin’ Bee” and had begun work on “Two Ladies in de Shade of de Banana Tree” when Harold was rushed to Doctor’s Hospital for surgery. Harold’s ulcer was bleeding terribly, which caused him to lose volumes of blood and required close to three dozen transfusions. Fortunately, Harold managed to hang on and even insisted upon having Capote visit the hospital so that they could continue to work on the show.

From the book Harold Arlen: Rhythm, Rainbows, and Blues by Edward Jablonski (1998), p. 247:

By January [1954] Capote had moved to Paris and put in a call to Arlen, who was still in Beverly Hills but preparing to move to New York. Arlen was excited about an idea he had for the title song and, for what seemed to Capote hours, played the melody that became [the character] Royal’s “House of Flowers.” In the same costly, unorthodox manner they produced one of Arlen’s classic songs, “I Never Has Seen Snow.”

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Harold Arlen sings, accompanying himself on piano — originally released in 1955 on the album The Music of Harold Arlen, Vol. 1, Walden Records 306; also included in the 1955 double album The Music of Harold Arlen, Walden Records 306 (Vol.1) & 307 (Vol.2)

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Diahann Carroll — from the original Broadway cast recording LP House of Flowers, Columbia Masterworks ‎ML 4969, OL 4969, released in 1955

According to Harold Arlen: Rhythm, Rainbows, and Blues, p. 258, during the recording of the House of Flowers original cast album, in January 1955:

Arlen himself participated in the recordingAnd when Diahann Carroll, suffering from a cold, could not reach a high note in “I Never Has Seen Snow,” Arlen sang it for her. In the penultimate bar a skip of a seventh to a high G elude Carroll. After a few attempts revealed she could not make it, Arlen sang the one note, which was edited into the master tape. Only a careful listening to the recording reveals this minor deception; on the word “like” there is a slightly noticeable difference in the texture of the voice.

That note, which is very obvious, begins at about 3:33 in the following video.

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Percy Faith — from the 1956 album Plays Music From The Broadway Production House Of Flowers, Columbia CL-640

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Beverly Kenney — from the 1957 album Sings with Jimmy Jones and “The Basie-Ites”, (US) Roost RLP 2218, (UK) Vogue VA 160141

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Quincy Jones — from the 1959 LP The Great Wide World of Quincy Jones, Mercury SR 60221 (Stereo), Mercury MG 20561, MG-20561 (Mono)

According to Jablonski, p. 304, when Harold Arlen heard this recording he said, “To enjoy it you’ve got to be on the weed.”

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(above) brief review of the album This Fling Called Love, from Billboard magazine’s March 17, 1962 issue, p. 22

Eileen Farrell with Percy Faith and his Orchestra — from the 1962 album This Fling Called Love, Columbia CS 8539

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Liza Minnelli — from her 1965 LP It Amazes Me, Capitol Records ST 2271, ST-2271; with orchestra arranged and conducted by Peter Matz

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Audra McDonald — from her 2000 CD album How Glory Goes, (US) Nonesuch 79580-2, (Germany) Nonesuch WE810

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Audra McDonald — live performance, date unknown

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Audrey Lavine — from her 2002 CD album At Home With Arlen, Ostinato 2266

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Vanessa Williams — from the 18 July 2004 episode of Evening at Pops, with Keith Lockhart conducting; featuring Martha Babcock on cello

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Shelly Watson with Karen Schwartz on piano — Christmas show at Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, 22 December 2007

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Alison Alampi — performance at Marymount Manhattan College, 16 May 2011

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Beth Lanza — in the cabaret show “Nobody’s Side: Broadway’s Cult Classics” at Davenport’s Piano Bar, Chicago, 28 July 2011

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Amasia Gordon — published on YouTube, 31 May 2014

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Alia Hodge — Bill Casey Senior Rep Studio Recital, 16 December 2014 at The Boston Conservatory

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Kyra Selman — Rogue Songs Benefit concert at Prospect Theatre, 15 September 2016

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Angel Harrison — at the West End Lounge in NYC; published on YouTube, 3 May 2017

The description below the video says:

Angel Harrison singing ‘ I never has seen snow’ in JDProductions ‘Bound For Broadway’ at The West End Cabaret Theatre. For more info or to audition please visit http://www.thewestendlounge.com

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Olivia London — at the West End Lounge in NYC; published on YouTube, 12 September 2018

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Selected links

“I Never Has Seen Snow” authors

House of Flowers Broadway musical

“I Never Has Seen Snow” recording history

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