Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Night with Dinah Washington

Dinah Washington photo DinahWasington_zpsf2aeb469.jpg

Miss Dinah Washington was one of the top vocalist of the 1950s, and the was the greatest selling black female recording artist of that period. Her big hit was not just big, but megahuge. "What A Difference A Day Makes" had such a strength and depth to it, it is damn close to irresistible. And like many singers, she first found music in her church, singing in the choir. By the time she was 15 years old, Dinah was playing in clubs around Chicago, making a name for herself. By the time she was 19, she had attracted the attention of many people, including Lionel Hampton, who signed her up to sing with his band. After two years with Hampton, Dinah went solo, and started with singing the music of the great Fats Waller. She also recorded this great song co-written by Louis Jordan and Billy Austin in 1944. Here is Dinah Washington singing "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby".

Next up, Dinah sings "I Don't Hurt Anymore", written by Don Robertson and Jack Rollins. As a single, Dinah had a big hit in 1954, and it is easy to hear why. This Bluesy song is just wonderful, and she sings it perfectly. This is a clip of her singing it live in 1956. You can just eat this up with a spoon, it is so yummy.

In 1955, Washinngton recorded a great song written by Cole Porter, originally featured in the 1934 Broadway musical 'Anything Goes'. Dinah Washington recorded "I Get A Kick Out Of You" for the album 'For Those In Love', and it is easy to see she loves the song. You can hear it in the recording. Another thing you hear on the record is the early work of a young Quincy Jones, who did most of the arrangements for the album.

Dinah sings "Drinking Again", a 1962 torch song, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer and music by Doris Tauber. Dinah recorded the song that same year, on an album of the same name. This time out, the songs were arranged by the great Don Costa, best known for his work with Frank Sinatra, both as a producer and arranger.

Unfortunately, Washington was not to be with us that much longer. While she was around, she certainly lived life to the fullest. She was married seven times, and had two children. She made music in four decades, from her choir music in the 1030s, to the high-quality recordings of the 1960s. Early on the morning of December 14, 1963, Washington's seventh husband Dick "Night Train" Lane went to sleep with his wife, and awoke later to find her slumped over and not responsive. A doctor pronounced her dead on the scene. An autopsy later showed a lethal combination of secobarbital and amobarbital, which contributed to her death at the age of 39.

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