Thursday, 29 August 2013
Dinah Washington born 29 August 1924
Dinah Washington (August 29, 1924 – December 14, 1963) was a blues, R&B and jazz singer. Because of her strong voice and emotional singing, she is known as the Queen of the Blues.Despite dying at the early age of 39, Washington became one of the most influential vocalists of the twentieth century.
Washington was born Ruth Lee Jones in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Her family moved to Chicago while she was still a child. As a child in
Chicago she played piano and directed her church choir. She later studied in Walter Dyett's renowned music program at DuSable High School. There was a period when she both performed in clubs as Dinah Washington while singing and playing piano in Sallie Martin's gospel choir as Ruth Jones.
Her penetrating voice, excellent timing, and crystal-clear enunciation added her own distinctive style to every piece she undertook. While making extraordinary recordings in jazz, blues, R&B and light pop contexts, Washington refused to record gospel music despite her obvious talent in singing it. She believed it wrong to mix the secular and spiritual, and after she had entered the non-religious professional music world she refused to include gospel in her repertoire. Washington began performing in 1942 and soon joined Lionel Hampton's band. There is some dispute about the origin of her name. Some sources say the manager of the Garrick Stage Bar gave her the name Dinah Washington, while others say Hampton selected it.
In 1943 she began recording for Keynote Records and released "Evil Gal Blues", her first hit. By 1955 she had released numerous hit songs on the R&B charts, including "Baby, Get Lost", "Trouble in Mind", "You Don't Know What Love Is" (arranged by Quincy Jones), and a cover of "Cold, Cold Heart" by Hank Williams. In March of 1957 she married tenor saxophonist Eddie Chamblee, (formerly on tour with Lionel Hampton) who led the band behind her. In 1958 she made a well-received appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival.
With "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes" 1959, Washington won a Grammy Award for Best Rhythm and Blues Performance. The song was her biggest hit, reaching #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. The commercially driven album of the same name, with its heavy reliance on strings and wordless choruses, was slammed by jazz
and blues critics as being far too commercial and not in keeping with her blues roots. Despite this, the album was a huge success and Washington continued to favor more commercial, pop-oriented songs rather than traditional blues and jazz songs. Along with a string of other hits, she followed this with "September In The Rain", which reached number 35 in the UK in November 1961 and #23 in the US. In 1960, she also had two top 10 hit duets with Brook Benton: "Baby (You've Got What t Takes)" and "A Rockin' Good Way (To Mess Around and Fall In Love)". She also dealt in torch songs; her rendition of the popular standard "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" was well regarded.
Her vocal style has influenced many of her successors, and can still move modern listeners. She was married seven times, and divorced six times while having several lovers, including Quincy Jones, her young arranger. She was refined, highly intelligent, deeply spiritual, and infinitely tasteful in her style. She was a liberated woman before such a term existed. Legend has it that she wore mink in all weathers and carried two .45 pistols with her. Although she had a reputation as imperious and demanding, many found her loving, funny, generous and forgiving.
Washington, who was just 5'2" tall and had fought a weight problem all her life, was dieting to lose weight before a New Year's Eve party she was giving with her friend Bea Buck. Early on the morning of December 14, 1963, Washington's seventh husband Lane went to sleep with his wife, and awoke later to find her slumped over and not responsive. Doctor B. C. Ross came to the scene to pronounce her dead. An autopsy later showed a lethal combination of secobarbital and amobarbital, which contributed to her death at the age of 39. She is buried in the Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.
The verve and originality she brought to her music, and that glamorous distinctive voice, is named by countless singers (and music lovers) as the ultimate voice. And Washington’s music remains as relevant, thrilling and fabulous as ever. Tuscaloosa is honoring Dinah Washington August 29th 2013 with the grand opening of the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center. (info mainly Wikipedia)