Mavis Rivers, 63; Jazz Singer


Mavis Rivers, Samoan-born jazz singer who recorded several albums for Capitol and Reprise in the 1960s, died Friday at Queen of Angels-Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. She was 63.

Miss Rivers died of the complications of a stroke, said her son, composer and alto saxophonist Matthew Catingub.

She became ill May 23 during a performance with her son at the Vine Street Bar and Grill, and was rushed to the hospital.


Just two days before she was stricken, her son said, Miss Rivers had commented that singer Sylvia Syms, who died after a performance in New York, represented “a great way for a singer to go.”

“I’d like to go the same way,” Catingub quoted her as saying.

Born into a musical family in Western Samoa, Miss Rivers sang for U. S. troops when she was a young girl.

When her parents moved to New Zealand, she became a popular radio and nightclub singer there. She later came to the United States to study music at Brigham Young University.

After moving into jazz, Miss Rivers most frequently appeared with the Red Norvo combo. She also performed with George Shearing and Andre Previn.

Times jazz critic Leonard Feather described her in her heyday as “champion of the anti-belter school of singing” and repeatedly likened her control to that of an instrumentalist.

Miss Rivers’ wide-ranging repertoire included “Try a Little Tenderness,” “Baubles, Bangles and Beads,” “If You Could See Me Now” and “It’s a Wonderful World.”


In later years, she performed with her son and his group. Her most recent album was “I’m Getting Cement Over Ewe” with her son’s band on the Sea Breeze label.

In addition to Matthew, Miss Rivers is survived by her husband, Dave Catingub, and another son, Reynaldo.