First recorded by Helen Jepson (1936).
Hit versions by Billie Holiday (US #12 1936), Sidney Bechet (1939), Sam Cooke (US #81 1959), Al Martino (UK #49 1960), The Marcels (US #78/UK #46 1961), Billy Stewart (US #10/R&B #7/UK #39 1966), Fun Boy Three (UK #18 1982).
Also recorded by Janis Joplin (1968).
From the wiki: “‘Summertime’ is an aria composed in 1934 by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. The lyrics are by DuBose Heyward, the author of the novel Porgy, on which the opera was based, although the song is also co-credited to Ira Gershwin. The song soon became a popular and much recorded jazz standard, described as ‘without doubt … one of the finest songs the composer ever wrote … Gershwin’s highly evocative writing brilliantly mixes elements of jazz and the song styles of blacks in the southeast United States from the early twentieth century.’
“Gershwin began composing the song in December 1933, attempting to create his own spiritual in the style of the African American folk music of the period. Gershwin had completed setting Heyward’s poem to music by February 1934, and spent the next 20 months completing and orchestrating the remainder of the score for the opera.
“There are over 25,000 recordings of ‘Summertime’. In September 1936, a recording by Billie Holiday was the first to hit the US pop charts, reaching #12 on the Hit Parade. The most commercially successful version was by Billy Stewart, who reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100, #7 on the R&B chart, and #39 in the UK in 1966. A 1982 version by Fun Boy Three reached #18 on the UK Singles chart. Janis Joplin recorded ‘Summertime’ on her second album with Big Brother & the Holding Company, releasing it in the summer of 1968”
Billie Holiday, “Summertime” (1936):
Sidney Bechet, “Summertime” (1939):
Sam Cooke, “Summertime” (1959):
Al Martino, “Summertime” (1960):
The Marcels, “Summertime” (1961):
Billy Stewart, “Summertime (1966):
Janis Joplin, “Summertime” (1968):
Fun Boy Three, “Summertime” (1982):