Dinah Washington, Queen of the Blues, is my first true love in terms of Jazz singing. Discovering her album, “For Those in Love”, absolutely changed my life. When I was little I would listen to her and her alone; until I had completely absorbed nearly all her music, from her early blues recordings, her straight ahead Jazz albums, her early R&b hits, and her crossover pop recordings of the early 1960’s. I loved them all. As I became more infatuated with her music, I began to learn more about her career and personal life, asking friends of mine who knew her (Clark Terry, Junior Mance, etc) and reading what books I could find. Learning more about her, I became more and more in love with her music.
In the 20 years of her recording career and with her unprecedented cross-genre hits, she became one of the most commercially successful female black performers of her generation, all while never changing the artistic approach to her music. You’ve probably heard her renditions of “What a Difference a Day Makes,” “Unforgettable,” and “Evil Gal Blues” (her first hit, from 1943); and you’re likely to hear her music on the TV and in movies even today. Besides winning a Grammy in 1959 for her recording of “What a Difference a Day Makes”, she was awarded 3 posthumous Grammy’s (1998, 1999, and 2001) and inducted into the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame in 1993.
She has long been my hero, the voice I turn to when I’m happy and when I’m sad and so I am very pleased to announce my new project, “Letters to Dinah”, a new show which features songs she has taught me to love. You’ll hear some blues, some standards, some country, and some R&B too. I hope you’ll join me in this celebration of Jazz and Black American Music, by following along here on the blog and by attending a show:
The International Premiere of the show will be in Israel as part of the Hot Jazz Series (February / Details here) and the US Premiere will be at WNYC’s The Greene Space (February 18), where you can attend the show or watch via the live broadcast. (Details here) More concert dates to be announced soon.
Right now, I am picking out songs for the show! Which ones should I include? “Salty Papa Blues”? “TV is the Thing This Year”? Let me know what you think in the comments.