It was introduced by Mary Martin and Kenny Baker in the Broadway musical One Touch of Venus (1943). The 1944 hit single was by Guy Lombardo and his orchestra, with vocal by Billy Leach. Actress Ava Gardner (dubbed by Eileen Wilson) and Dick Haymes sang the song in the feature film version of One Touch of Venus (1948).
The tune is a jazz standard that has been widely recorded, both by vocal artists from Billie Holiday and Tony Bennett to The Miracles and Dee Dee Bridgewater, and such instrumentalists as James Moody, Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Bill Evans, Sonny Clark with Donald Byrd and John Coltrane, Roy Hargrove, Woody Shaw, Bobby Shew, Eumir Deodato and Brian Bromberg. Pianist Walter Bishop Jr. in 1961 recorded an album, Speak Low, featuring the song. Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass recorded this in 1983 (on CD Speak Love). Al Caiola's 1961 version reached #105 on Cashbox magazine's "Looking Ahead" survey. Kurt Weill himself also recorded the song.
"Speak Low" is featured in the 2014 German film Phoenix.
Barbra Streisand version
|Single by Barbra Streisand|
|from the album Back to Broadway|
|Barbra Streisand singles chronology|
Larry Flick from Billboard wrote, "Release of single from Streisand's lovely "Back To Broadway" opus could not be timed better, given the recent spate of media attention the pop diva has garnered in recent weeks. Tune from "One Touch Of Venus" has a seductive, shuffling rhythm that blends well with Johnny Mandel's lush orchestration. As always, Streisand is in exemplary vocal form, and this track will prove a total joy' to her devoted legion of fans."