This timeline was pieced together from all found articles, nightclub postings and web mentions, as well as Ancestry.com. It is a work in progress, please submit any suggestions here.
• January 29, 1932: Beverly Anne Kenney was born to a blue collar Irish Catholic family in Harrison, New Jersey.
• Her parents were Charles J. Kenney (25) and Jean K. Kenney (17). Jean's full maiden name was Regina Katherine Abrams. They were married in 1931 (according to NJ records).
• She was the oldest of nine children (full and half siblings). Her full siblings:
Helen Kenney - b. 1933
Kathleen (Katy) Kenney - b. 1936
Jane Kenney - b. 1939
Charles Kenney - b. 1941, d. 1942 (in infancy)
Charlene Elizabeth Kenney - b. 1944, d. 2006
Thomas G. Kenney - 1947, d. 2003
• Beverly's maternal grandparents were Harry Abraham & Kathryn Abrams. Harry (d. 1930s), changed the family name from Abraham to Abrams in the 1920s. Their's was an interfaith marriage and he is buried with his parents and and other family under his original name, Abraham.
• The 1940 census also shows that Jean's mother, Kathryn, and brother, William, were living with the Kenney family.
• Beverly's parents divorced once she was on her own and her mother remarried (becoming Jean K. Baranowski to husband Julian Baranowski) and had two more children.
• In all, Kenney's siblings included: Helen, Katy, Jane Charlene, Tom, Stephen, Michael and Charles.
• Early 1950s: Kenney began her career singing telegrams for Western Union over the phone.
• Kenney won an amateur contest in a small New Jersey nightclub
• 1954: Kenney recorded a demo with Tony Tamburello (released in 2006 as “Snuggled on Your Shoulder”)
• 1954: Kenney relocated to Miami and performed at the Black Magic Room.
• July 1954: Kenney performed at the Brook Lounge, Miami
• September 1954: Kenney headlines at the “La Vie En Rose” club in Miami
• April 1955: Kenney toured with Jimmy & Tommy Dorsey’s Dorsey Brothers Orchestra (a gig she got with the help of George DeWitt [Miami News Herald, 3/31/55]) starting at the beginning of April.
"Tommy and Jimmy liked me, but they thought I was too much of a stylist for the band. After a few months on the road, I left, and returned to New York” -Beverly Kenney
• Kenney returned to New York, performed in nightclubs with George Shearing, Don Elliott, and Kai Winding.
• July, 1955: Kenney appeared at The Ja-Da La Martinique Club in NJ
• October 15, 1955: Kenney performed at Carnegie Hall in "Jazz for Israel", a benefit concert produced by Don Friedman Enterprises and hosted by Steve Allen. Kenney shared the bill with Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Tito Puente, Marian McPartland, The Modern Jazz Quartet and many more.
• February 2, 1956: Kenney began a run at Birdland in NYC
• April 30, 1956: Kenney began a run at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge in Detroit, MI, with guitarist Johnny Smith’s Quintet
• 1956: Kenney appeared at the Playgoer Room at the Westnor restaurant in Westport, Connecticut (October 25, 1956 newspaper ad)
ª 1956 - Kenney appeared in Toronto at Town Tavern, most likely backed backed by the Norm Amadio Trio (Norm on piano, Bob Price on bass, and Archie Alleyne on drums)
• October, 1956: Kenney appeared on the NBC live radio show, “Sound Flight ’56”.
• Downbeat Critic Nat Hentoff, after her debut at NY’s Basin Street Club, wrote, “(Kenney is) more flexible than Helen Merrill, swings more easily than Teddi King, and her musicianship and care for lyrics are far superior to Chris Connor’s.”
• 1956: Kenney recorded the album, “Beverly Kenney Sings for Johnny Smith” (Decca)
• 1956: Kenney did a short midwest tour with trumpeter Larry Sonn’s big band. Her fear of driving led her to consider leaving the trip early by train.
• August 29, 1956: Kenney played the reopening of Mr. Kelly’s in Chicago. She had her dates wrong and accidentally flew in a week early and ended up helping out with the construction crew [Chicago Tribune, 8/23/56]
• September 28, 1956: Kenney was appearing at The Blue Note in Philadelphia
• October, 1956: Kenney appeared at the Playgoer Room at the Westnor Restaurant in Westport, Connecticut.
• March 12, 1957: Kenney appeared live on radio on the Robert Q. Lewis Show
• Oct 13, 1957: Kenney appeared at “Harvey’s Day” Tribute for Harvey Husten at the Red Hill Inn. Other performers included Errol Garner, Gerry Mulligan, Billy Taylor, Cannonball Adderly, Oscar Pettiford, Phineas Newborn, Jr., Charles Mingus, Marian McPartland, Helen Merrel, Ruth Price, Bill Evans, Leonard Feather
• Oct. 25, 1957: Kenney was appearing at the Red Hill Inn in Philadelphia
* December 19-22, 1957: Beverly appeared on the bill with Beat Poet Jack Kerouac and trombonist J.J. Johnson for a run at the Village Vanguard in NYC.
• Kenney began residency with saxophonist Lester Young’s Quintet at Birdland
• Late April 1958: Kenney appeared at The Embers in NYC with Bill Williams
• May 18, 1958: Kenney performed on The Steve Allen Show, singing her original song, “I Hate Rock ’n’ Roll”
• Aug 19-24, 1958: Kenney appeared at the Mardi Gras nightclub in Rochester, NY.
• 1958: Kenney recorded the album “Beverly Kenney Sings for Playboys” (Decca)
According to friend, Millie Perkins, (in an interview with Bill Reed) Beverly's affair with Milt Klonsky ended around 1958.
From author Margaret A. Harrell:
"Millie Perkins, in her interview with Bill Reed, disagreed, pointing out that Beverly’s death occurred two years after the Klonsky affair, that the affair with Lowenstein followed and it was, until the end, a happy time for Beverly, and that Beverly voiced no reservations when Perkins began dating Klonsky.
In fact, Millie Perkins is correct, as Klonsky himself told me. Their affair went downhill after she went on a music tour with a guy and had an affair with him. Two years later, when she committed suicide, Klonsky rushed to the scene (I suppose she phoned him) but got there too late."
• 1959: Kenney recorded the album “Born To Be Blue” (Decca). Editor Allan Gilbert, Jr. wrote, "...she has the ability to gently, huskily slur, warp and mould her phrasing to achieve rare individuality" and that she "could be tomorrow's big name.” (May 1, 1958, Northwest Arkansas Times. Fayetteville, Arkansas)
• Sometime around late 1959 and early 1960, Kenney may have been working for a "publication firm", likely as a way to earn money between engagements. (I've found only one mention of this, in the Daily News, 4/14/60, found here.)
• February 7, 1960: Kenney appeared on Playboy’s Penthouse, singing "Everything Happens to Me", "Mountain Greenery", "In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning" and performing a duet with host, Hugh Hefner, on “Makin’ Whoopee”. On "Mountain Greenery", she sang two versions: first, straight as it was written and then as a jazz singer might approach it. Video is HERE
• 1960: By this time, Kenney had been living at the University Residence Club on West 11th Street in NYC.
• April 12, 1960 - After a period when her friends said she had been “out of sight”, her body was discovered in her apartment. This was her third suicide attempt. Autopsy report stated she died of “visceral congestion”.A combination of alcohol and Seconal (pink pills) was reported.
• She is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington, New Jersey (Blk-78 Sec-B Tr-G Gr-16 1A).