Abbey Lincoln - Profile of her Life
She is a singer, song writer, actress, civil rights activist and of course world renowned jazz vocalist. Abbey Lincoln born Anna Marie Wooldridge is recognized as one of jazz's most uncompromising vocalist. In fact, few singers have her emotional depth. With a voice that evokes the happiness, joy and pain of life, she will always have a special place in the world of jazz music.
Born in Chicago, Illinois on August 6, 1930. She was the tenth of 12 children. At an early age the family moved to rural Michigan where Abby would grow up. From an early age, she developed a love for music; soon she would perform at school and with her church choir. As Abbey matured, her singing did too. She studied the singing styles of Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday. As a result, she learned to sing with great emotional passion. In the early 50's, in search of a singing career, Lincoln headed west. She spent two years in Hawaii, where she met Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. Lincoln then moved to Los Angeles, California where she was be-friended by the lyricist Bob Russell. Russell became her manager and at his suggestion, she adopted the stage name Abbey Lincoln, which is a combination of Abraham Lincoln and Westminster Abbey.
Chicago and New York
After a few years in the western United States, Abbey moved to Chicago. As a result of her growing popularity, she was offered a role in the film "The Girl Can't Help it." During this performance she wore a dress similar to the one Marilyn Monroe wore. Abbey wasn't comfortable with this lifestyle; soon after, she fired her manager and looked for other projects. Abbey recorded her first album in 1956 named "Abbey Lincoln Affair:A Story of a Girl in Love." In 1957 she moved to New York City and worked at the Village Vanguard. It was during her time here she saw Max Roach again. The two first met when Abbey lived in California. Though him she would meet New York's Jazz elite, and she would develop as a artist and a civil rights activist.
Following their second meeting, and from the late 50's into the 1960's, Roach and Lincoln collaborated frequently. During this same period of time, the Civil Rights movement was gaining momentum. Consequently, they along with other jazz musicians such as John Coltrane and Charles Mingus were in the middle of it. In 1960 the pair recorded Roach's hit album "We Insist: Freedom Now Suite." As a result of her involvement with this album, Lincoln's reputation was radicalized.
1960's,70's and 80's
In 1962, Abbey married Max Roach. After they were married, for a while, she was more active as an actress than a singer. She starred with Ivan Dixon in “Nothing but a Man,” in 1964. In 1968 she stared opposite Sidney Poitier in the romantic comedy “For Love of Ivy.” During the 60's and 70's, Lincoln acted in various television roles. In 1970 Lincoln divorced Roach. During this time she withdrew from the spotlight and moved back to California. Despite the financial hardships she went though, she made the best of it. Abbey visited Africa in 1975 at the invitation of a close friend. During the 70's and 80's, Lincoln recorded on small independent record labels. However it wasn't until 1989 her career got a big boost. A French producer Jean-Philippe Allard invited Lincoln to record for Verve Records.
1990's and 2000's
In 1990 Abbey had a brief role in the movie Mo' Better Blues. In the film she played the role of Bleek Gilliams' mother. That same year, "The World is Falling Down" was released. It moved Lincoln back to stardom. On this album was featured artist such as saxophonist Jackie McLean and pianist Hank Jones. Since that album, she has had a string of hits that continue to bring her commercial success. In 2003 she received the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award.
Abbey Lincoln passed away on August 14, 2010. Although she is gone, she is not forgotten. She will live on though her music and the various musical artist she influenced.