January 14, 2005
To: Listings/Critics/Features From: JAZZ PROMO SERVICES
A Benefit for Della Griffin:
One of the first women jazz drummers & legendary Harlem singer:
Sunday January 23rd from 7 PM to 9:30 PM at St. Peter's Church 54th Street & Lexington Ave. NYC
Performers include: Gloria Lynne, Ray Shinnery, Lonnie Youngblood, Melvin Sparks, Irene Reid, Jimmy Norman (Co-writer: Time Is On My Side"), Danny Mixon, Tootsie Bean, Bertha Hope, Michael Max Flemming, Houston Person and many more... (suggested donation $20 or whatever you can afford) ...
Good news: We have the contractor starting this week and if all goes well we will raise enough, and she will be back in her home just after the benefit! If you want to donate call the Jazz Foundation at 212-245-3999
See Daily News article below:
LEGEND IN NEED Della Griffin's House Burns Down Daily News Article: Fire leaves jazz great with a house of blues BY JONATHAN LEMIRE DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Displaced Della Griffin, foster mom to many, gets hugs from grandkids" Briona Bland (l.) and Ashley Brown, both 11. Della Griffin's voice is gorgeous enough to evoke Billie Holiday, and her heart big enough to take in more than a dozen foster children.
But now the elderly jazz legend who thrilled crowds at the Apollo Theater and sang with Count Basie's band needs help herself.
A fire ripped through her Westchester house in Mount Vernon on Dec. 17, leaving her homeless for the holidays. Though anxious to find a home - she's staying with one of her former foster kids in Mount Vernon - Griffin isn't letting the blaze melt her generous spirit, or make her miss her regular gig next month at a Yonkers jazz club.
Music brings me great joy. It always makes me smile," she said. I miss my home and its memories, but I have faith that the [foster] kids and I will be taken care of."
Griffin says she is 80-something" but doesn't know her exact age because both her parents were illiterate and no records were kept when she was born in Jamaica, Queens.
She moved to Harlem to take part in its thriving music scene and carved out a niche as one of the country's first female jazz drummers.
Griffin played at the Apollo with the Platters, the Dell Tones and shared the stage with a who's who of jazz and blues singers, including Etta Jones.
She also became the best of friends with the original Angel of Harlem" - Billie Holiday. After Billie died, her husband would visit every week to hear me sing, because I reminded him of her," Griffin said before breaking into a jaw-dropping version of Some Other Spring."
She released a hit album of standards, The Very Thought of You," and moved 40 years ago to Mount Vernon, where she became known as more than a singer - she was Aunt Della," who always made room for a child in need.
My mother, who had 20 kids of her own, would always take in foster kids," said Griffin.
Over the years she's taken in more than 40 children, who have grown up and had kids who also have found a home with her. At the time of the fire, nine people - including three great-foster kids - were staying with Aunt Della.
The blaze began when Griffin's 6-year-old foster child accidentally kicked over a candle. The blaze and water damage caused more than $15,000 worth of damage, and Griffin's homeowner's insurance had lapsed three months ago, said Wendy Oxenhorn of the Jazz Foundation of America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to taking care of elderly jazz and blues musicians.
The Jazz Foundation plans to hold a benefit concert for Griffin early in 2005 - similar to ones Griffin has played over the years for fellow musicians.
For more information about the concert or to make a donation, call the Jazz Foundation at (212) 245-3999. Originally published on December 26, 2004
We've gotten a contractor who is starting the work and if all goes well, Della will be home" days after the benefit on jan. 23rd. If you want to donate to the Jazz Foundation, call the number above. xox, Wendy-Jazz Foundation
This story appears courtesy of All About Jazz Publicity.
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