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Monday, November 8, 2010

Some Dinah request.....

Dinah Washington

The versatile vocalist Dinah Washington was born Ruth Lee Jones in Tuscaloosa Alabama on August 29th 1924. She grew up in Chicago where her family moved in 1928.

Her mother was heavily involved in church community centered around St Luke’s Baptist and Dinah was surrounded by gospel and church music since her early childhood. She exhibited musical talents at an early age and was part of the church choir playing the piano and singing gospel in her early teens. At age 15, enamored by Billie Holiday, she started playing and singing the blues in local clubs and made quite a name for herself. In 1942 Lionel Hampton heard her and hired her for to front his band. Hampton claims that it was he who gave her the name Dinah Washington but other sources disagree.

Some suggest the talent agent Joe Glaser suggested the new name and others cite the manager of the bar where she was performing at the time as the person who recommended it. This was also the year when she married her first husband; John Young (she would marry 6 more times). She remained with Lionel Hampton from 1943-1946 and during this tenure made her recording debut, a blues session produced by Leonard Feather for Keynote records. She became quite popular both as the band singer for Hampton and as a solo artist. She used her new found financial success to buy a home for her mother and sister. She left Hampton’s orchestra early 1946 while she was living in LA and shortly afterwards recorded blues sides for the small Apollo label. Her big break came very shortly afterwards when she signed with Mercury label on January 14 1946. During her stay with Mercury she recorded a number of top ten hits in a multitude of genres including blues, R&B, pop, standards, novelties, even country. She never was strictly a jazz singer but did record number of jazz sessions with some of the most influential musicians of the day including Cannonball Adderley, Clark Terry, and Ben Webster. Her most memorable jazz recording is with Clifford Brown; the classic Dinah Jams from 1955.

After the unexpected commercial success of “What a Diff'rence a Day Makes,” in 1959, which marked Washington’s breakthrough into the mainstream pop and won her a Grammy; she stopped recording blues and jazz songs and concentrated on more easy listening tunes characterized by lush orchestrations. The critics decried this shift in her career but it did bring her music more widespread exposure and commercial success. She started having problems with her weight so she became dependant on diet pills and on Dec. 14, 1963 she died of an accidental overdose of alcohol and diet pills in a hotel room in Detroit. She was buried at Burr Oak Cemetery in Chicago.

Singer Dinah Washington, the Grammy-winning "Queen of the Jukeboxes," left her turbulent life behind at the tender age of 39. In that short period, a volatile mix of undeniable talent and deep-rooted insecurity took her to the heights of fame and the depths of self-doubt.

That was in 1963. Now, as fans mark what would have been Washington's 80th birthday, music historian Nadine Cohodas fills NPR's Liane Hansen in on some of the story. Cohodas has written Queen: The Life and Music of Dinah Washington.

Born in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 1924, the former Ruth Lee Jones moved with her family to Chicago as a young girl. She considered the Windy City her true home. And it was there in the early 1940s that a local nightclub owner provided her first gig — and a new name that she would make famous. By 1959 she had earned a Grammy for her version of the song "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes."

In his 2001 biography Q, music legend Quincy Jones vividly describes Washington's style, saying she "could take the melody in her hand, hold it like an egg, crack it open, fry it, let it sizzle, reconstruct it, put the egg back in the box and back in the refrigerator and you would've still understood every single syllable."

But the singer's musical gifts were offset by a wild and extravagant personal life. Married seven times, Washington battled weight problems and raced through her profits buying shoes, furs and cars in an effort to lift her spirits.

Washington also tried numerous prescription medications, primarily for dieting and insomnia. A mix of the pills she was taking in 1963 caused her death, which was ruled an accident. Her gift lives on through her rich musical legacy.

Here's a few (well, more than a few) tracks.....There is some later stuff, but I put mostly earlier recordings and some later faves on here, today...enjoy!

Blues for a day
Cry me a river (Truth & Soul Remix) From the Verve Remixed 4 CD (just for fun)
Alone together (live)
Evil gal blues
Beggin' mama blues
Come rain or come shine (live)
Chewin' mama blues
 I've got you under my skin (live)
Embraceable you
I can't get started
Blow top blues
Backwater blues
Ain't nothin' good
All or nothing
Baby did you hear [Danger Mouse Remix] From the Verve Remixed 3 CD (just for fun)
Don't Get Around Much Anymore
Go pretty daddy
Feel like I wanna cry
Fool that I am
I ain't going to cry no more
Destination moon
Homeward bound
Am I blue 1
Fat daddy
Baby get lost
All of me
Am I blue 2
Cry me a river (live)
After you've gone
All of me (live)
I don't hurt
Easy livin'
Everybody loves somebody
I'll close my eyes
I'm lost without you tonight
I've got a feelin' I'm fallin'

Lover come back to me (live)
Rich man's blues
Pacific Coast blues

Is you is or is you ain't my baby (Rae & Christian Remix) From Verve Remixed 1 (just for fun)
My lovin' papa
No more (live)
Ooo Wee walkie talkie
Joy juice
A slick chick (on the mellow side)

I won't cry anymore
Is you is or is you ain't my baby
Salty papa blues
Just one more chance
New blowtop blues
I know how to do it
I wanna be around
No voot no boot
Lean baby
Never never
Pennies from heaven
Set me free
My man's an undertaker
Let's fall in love
Ole Santa
I remember you
It's magic
Makin' whoopie
Mood indigo
My old flame
Red sails in the sunset
The man I love
If I were a bell
Is you is or is you ain't my baby 3
It could happen to you
It's too soon to know
Keepin' out of mischief now
Let's do it
Love for sale
Mad about the boy
Make me a present of you
Our love is here to stay
September in the rain

Walking blues
Summertime (live)
There is no greater love (live)
Stairway to the stars
You can depend on me

 You go to my head (live)
There's got to be a change
When a woman loves a man
Wise woman blues
Stormy weather
This bitter earth
With a song in my heart
You let my love grow cold
Smoke gets in your eyes
T'aint nobody's business if I do
Teach me tonight
What a difference a day makes


  1. Married 6 times??

    she obviously enjoyed a fresh batch every few years

    Dinahs a stunner

  2. Ha! I can't personally imagine going down the aisle SIX