McCorkle, Susannah

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Portrait of Susannah McCorkle (click to view image source)
Susannah McCorkle
(to view image author and license, click here)
McCorkle, Susannah Gender: F
born on 1 January 1946 at 23:31 (= 11:31 PM )
Place Berkeley, California, 37n52, 122w16
Timezone PST h8w (is standard time)
Data source
Quoted BC/BR
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Rodden
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_capcol.18.gif 11°19' s_mo.18.gif s_sagcol.18.gif 27°37 Asc.s_libcol.18.gif 01°29'


American jazz singer, prolific though not too commercially successful. Brainy, warm, and funny, McCorkle belonged to an exclusive coterie of American singers: she performed in the best rooms, recorded 19 albums, and enjoyed more than two decades of acclaim from the jazz press as well as the devotion of fans around the world. McCorkle's was an intimate art; when she sang, you felt there was no one else in the room but you and the singer. She fixed you with a gimlet eye and a generous smile that connected and didn't let go. If she noticed you at more than one performance, often as not she'd join you for a drink after the set and want to hear everything that had gone on in your life since the last time, and you would be enchanted by pungent, self-deprecating tales of what was happening in hers.

Everyone was stunned when she jumped to her death from her sixteenth-floor apartment on West 86th street at age 55. She wrote a rare confession via e-mail to a friend shortly before her death, that she was going through a total loss of confidence in herself, the book she was working on and her record company putting out a compilation instead of a new album. She wrote, ""I've been having a really rough time. Feeling totally immobilized. Can't even listen to music, except classical. Avoiding people so word won't get around how down I am."

Offstage, she was expert at hiding the depression that would eventually drain her of the will to live. To her family, it seemed as if the only time McCorkle clearly expressed her feelings was when she was performing. "She was very wide-open and truthful when she sang," says her mother, Mimi. "I got to know what she was thinking because she was telling me." McCorkle's sister Maggie felt the same way. "When Susannah was singing, she let her emotions show and she was happy," she said. "It always made me cry. It was the only time she ever spoke to us in a direct way." Her battle with depression, for which she had sought help from an array of doctors, nutritionists, shrinks, homeopaths, and medications, had left her in despair. Part of the problem, says a mental-health professional who knew her well, was that like many other manic-depressives, she was unable to accept the fact that she needed ongoing medication to remain stable. "She was bipolar II, manic-depressive -- that was in her genes," this person says. "She had to take meds to balance out the chemistry. But she didn't want to be in that category. She would refer to other family members who were on antidepressants and say that she didn't want to be like them."

An unopened vial of a newly prescribed antidepressant were found on a table the morning after she jumped to her death. Her father suffered from bipolar disorder and was a suicide, as was her mother's sister. McCorkle's older sister is schizophrenic. When Susannah was a student at Berkeley, her father was hospitalized following a mental breakdown; she told a therapist she felt obligated to drop out of school and get a job to support her family. The therapist replied that her financial help was not going to save anyone. "You're living in a burning building," she later recalled him saying. "Get out."

And she did, quite literally, adopting the life of an expatriate in Paris, Rome, and London, building a singing career characterized by elegance, impeccable arrangements, and rare musical intelligence. Her distinctive style -- at once sophisticated, sexy, and touchingly sincere -- had earned her three Stereo Review Album of the Year awards. High Fidelity's Francis Davis called her "the best female jazz singer of her generation." In 1990, Esquire named her one of its "Women We Love." Susannah married Dan DiNicola who remained her close friend after their divorce.

In the early-morning hours of 5/19/2001, McCorkle sent off a series of e-mails to friends. She fed her two cats, and at about 3 a.m. placed a one-page handwritten note in an envelope and addressed it to her friend, Lurie. In her pocket, she slipped her business card; on the back, she had written Lurie's name and telephone number, as well as DiNicola's. Then she hurled herself out the window. ". . . Please believe that I do this because I am convinced that my illness cannot be helped for any length of time and I cannot bear to be a burden on anyone any longer," her letter to Lurie read in part. "Please convey my love to everyone I leave behind. I just can't keep fighting myself and my own biochemistry any longer . . . "

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • Work : Gain social status 1990 (Esquire named her one of the "Women We Love")
  • Death by Suicide 19 May 2001 at 03:00 AM in Manhattan (Jumped from window, age 55)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

David Brown quotes B.C. in email correspondence 10/2002


  • Traits : Personality : Gracious/ sociable (Caring of others)
  • Traits : Personality : Humorous, Witty
  • Traits : Personality : Unique (Total attentiveness with her singing)
  • Diagnoses : Psychological : Bi-Polar Disorder (Deeply depressed, overly assertive)
  • Diagnoses : Psychological : Depression (Extreme, not fully medicated)
  • Family : Childhood : Family traumatic event (Dad bi-polar-suicide, aunt-suicide)
  • Family : Childhood : Sibling circumstances (Older sister, schizophrenic)
  • Family : Relationship : Divorce friendly (Stayed friends with ex)
  • Lifestyle : Work : Travel for work (European performances)
  • Lifestyle : Social Life : Animals, pets (Cats)
  • Lifestyle : Social Life : Friends (Close friends)
  • Personal : Death : Suicide (Jumped from tall building)
  • Vocation : Entertain/Music : Jazz (Pro, well-loved)
  • Vocation : Entertain/Music : Vocalist/ Pop, Rock, etc. (Jazz vocalist)