Alum Johnny Mathis and Jamie Cullum: Not Quite Jazz

Friday, January 09, 2015
ELMORE MAGAZINE -- While attending San Francisco State University on a track-and-field scholarship, Mathis worked weekends singing at a local nightclub, where he was spotted by George Avakian of Columbia Records. A gifted athlete as well as a performer (he set the San Francisco State high-jump record), Mathis passed up the chance to try out for the 1956 Olympic team, choosing instead to head to New York to record his debut album. Today, at age 79, retirement doesn’t seem to be on Mathis’ mind. Following the November release of The Complete Global Albums Collection (compiling the 10 — yes, 10 — albums he released between 1963 and 1967), Mathis is on a nationwide tour with dates scheduled throughout 2015. “My dad was a singer but he had a big family so he never pursued it as a profession, but he was the person that I wanted to please. He had seven children, but he always had time for all of us and he was just my best buddy in the world.”