In Memoriam: Jay Black (1938 – 2021)

Jay Black (born David Blatt; November 2, 1938 – October 22, 2021) was an American singer, also known as “The Voice,” whose height of fame came in the 1960s when he was the lead singer of the band Jay and the Americans. The band had numerous hits including “Cara Mia”, “Come a Little Bit Closer”, and “This Magic Moment”.

Black was born and grew up in the Brooklyn, New York City neighborhood of Borough Park. In his later career, he was known for touring New York State and Florida, singing, mainly solo, and preceding his singing with a stand-up comedy routine. Jay and his brother spoke Yiddish fluently. In 1966, he recorded a Yiddish song “Where Is My Village” about the Holocaust.

In a 2014 interview, he implied that he might have been suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, but that was not officially diagnosed. Black died from pneumonia in Queens on October 22, 2021, at age 82. At the time of his death, it was confirmed that he also had dementia.

Jay Black was the second, and more widely known, Jay to lead the band Jay and the Americans, the first being Jay Traynor. He had previously come from the doo-wop group The Empires, where he had sung lead on their 1962 lone Epic Records single “Time and a Place” b/w “Punch Your Nose” (Epic 5-9527). He had previously used David Black as his professional name, but changed his first name to suit the band’s existing name. He would later bill himself as “Jay Black and the Americans” after the original band had broken up.