Dinah Washington on Video


Sign in to view read count
Of all the many female jazz singers, Dinah Washington remains the most contemporary. Her voice was always cocked and loaded, her phrasing was akin to the sound of a getaway car, and her attitude told you she was not only charge but that you didn't really have a say. Washington was the embodiment of the crossover singer-storyteller—sliding effortlessly between R&B, jazz and pop without ever giving up her soul.

Unfortunately, too few of her performances exist on film. The problem is she never made it into the post-Civil Rights Acts era, when TV became more integrated and black jazz performers were invited onto variety shows with white hosts. Washington died in 1963, a year before the act was passed.

Yesterday, Jim Eigo of Jazz Promo Services sent along a link to a performance by Washington on March 8, 1960 at the Apollo Theater. On this NBC footage, Washington is singing What a Difference a Day Made and Makin' Whoopee. What's extraordinary is her composure and how she delivers the lyrics—improvising here and there to make a point. Other than Jazz on a Summer's Day (1960) and a few other rare appearances, this is all we have.

Here's Dinah Washington at the Apollo...

Here she is, circa 1958, singing Bessie Smith...

And here she is in 1956...

Continue Reading...

This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.


Jazz News

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.