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The First Ladies Of Jazz
First Ladies Of Jazz
Listed below are but a few of the female jazz greats of a bygone era, the likes of which we will never see again. A few notables not chronicled here are, Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, and Lena Horne. These honey dipped voices can be heard on YouTube, so go over and take a listen.
In the meantime sit back and relax as you listen to a sampling of these six great ladies of jazz.
Sarah Vaughn, born Sarah Lois Vaughn, on March 24, 1924, in Newark, New Jersey. Ms. Vaughn was the only child of Asbury, and Ada Vaughn. She began her career after a win at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater's Amateur Night. Vaughn sang with some of the greats, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Billy Eckstine, and more, before she began her solo career, which was very successful. During her illustrious career Ms. Vaughn won several awards, including, Grammys, the NEA Jazz Master Award.
Ms. Vaughn had several nicknames, of which "The Divine One" was the most popular, she was also known as "Sassy." She had only one child which she adopted in 1961, with her then husband Clyde Atkins. Ms. Vaughn had a long successful career which you can learn more about, by reading her bio on Wikipedia under Sarah Vaughn.
Dinah Washington was born Ruth Lee Jones, on August 29, 1924, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Ms. Washington was dubbed, Queen of The Blues, her genres were, Blues, R&B, and vocal Jazz. She won a talent contest at 15, and thereafter began singing in Night Clubs, going on to critical acclaim, with such notables as Lionel Hampton, Cannonball Adderley, and many more. "Between 1948 and 1955, she had 27 R&B top ten hits, making her one of the most popular, and successful singers of the period."
While listening to the track I chose for this article, I couldn't help but be fascinated all over again by what I heard. To get the full impact of this silk and honey voice you must go over to YouTube, and listen to more of her songs. I grew up listening to this music without any real appreciation, how I wished I'd had a chance to hear her live. For more info on this beautiful talent go over to Wikipedia under Dinah Washington.
Billie Holiday was born Eleanor Fagan, on April 7, 1915, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Her musical genres were, vocal jazz, jazz blues, torch songs, and swing. Ms. Holiday is said to have "changed the art of American pop vocals forever."
Several of Ms. Holiday's songs have become Jazz standards, songs such as "God Bless the Child, Lady Sings the Blues, Good Morning Heartache, Strange Fruit, Fine and Mellow." She was said to have co-written a few of these.
During her short 44 years Billie Holiday lived a rich, and full life. Unfortunately, her life was cut short by that "rich and full" life, and continued drug use, however, none of this in no way diminishes her talent, or her influence on the music of her day, and still has a powerful influence on music today.
Ms. Holiday's life is a very interesting read, and with this limited article I can't do her justice, so go over and read more at Wikipedia under Billie Holiday.
Etta James was born Jamesetta Hawkins on January 25, 1938 in Los Angeles, California, USA. Her music genres are, jazz, blues, R&B, rock and roll, soul, and gospel. For her immeasurable talent James has won numerous awards, not the least of which are four Grammys, and seventeen Blues Music Awards. She was also inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Etta James is best known for the very popular song "At Last," which has been featured in television shows, ad campaigns, and movies. The song was also performed by Beyonce at the inauguration of America's first black president, Barack Obama. Ms. James was named number twenty-two on the Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, and number sixty-two on their list of 100 Greatest Artist.
Ms. James has a very interesting life story, and I'm unable to do her justice with limited time and space, so, I encourage you to go over to read more of her story at, Etta James on Wikipedia.
Nina Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon, on February 21, 1933, in Tryon, North Carolina. Ms. Simone was a singer, songwriter, arranger, pianist, and civil rights activist. Her genres were jazz, classical folk, R&B, soul, gospel and pop. In 1958 her rendition of "I Loves You Porgy," became a smash hit in the United States, this, in effect, began her rise to fame.
Eunice, who was the sixth child of eight born into a poor family in North Carolina, began playing piano at a very early age. Her desire to become the first black concert pianist was never realized, however the piano was part of her signature performances throughout her life. An incident during a performance at a local church sparked her later interest in the Civil Rights Movement. It took place at a recital when she was twelve, her parents were sitting in the front row, but during her performance they were forced to move to the back, to make room for "white people." She became actively involved in the movement during the mid 60's, and as a result a civil rights message was standard in her recording repertoire, her live performances also included these messages.
Simone left the United States in 1970, first for Barbados, then on to Liberia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, and finally settling in France to live out her life, which ended in 2003 at age 70. To read more about this very interesting Lady, take a look at information concerning her life on Wikipedia, under Nina Simone.
Nancy Wilson was born on February 20, 1937, in Chillicothe, Ohio. Wilson began her career at the tender age of 15, after winning a talent contest sponsored by a local television station. Her prize was an appearance on the bi-weekly television show, Skyline Melodies. She eventually became the host of the show. With the success of "Guess Who I Saw Today.", Ms. Wilson achieved commercial success, and went on to have five albums released between 1960 and 1962. With her star on the rise, she was encouraged to not pursue her original pop style, and to steer her musical talent toward jazz and ballads. Following that advice she was able to achieve success with hits such as, "(You Don't Know), How Glad I Am, Tell Me The Truth, Face It Girl, It's Over," and many others. Wilson has received numerous awards, not the least of which were three Grammys.
Singing has not been Ms. Wilson's only talent, she's also appeared in a number of television shows such as,The Cosby Show, The Carol Burnett Show, New York Undercover, I Spy, Hawaii Five-O, and too many more to list due to time, and space. To read more on Nancy Wilson go to her website.
I hope you've enjoyed this little venture into the world of some very talented performers. When listening to the recordings provided take a few minutes and go over to YouTube, and listen to more of each of these individuals, you won't regret it.