Black History Month: Day 28

Well it is the last day of Black History Month, but that doesn’t mean the Black History research has to stop.

Dinah Washington was the “Queen of the Blues”. She was born Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as Ruth Lee Jones. Her family was musically talented, but they were poor.

In 1928, Washington and her family moved to Chicago. She began to play piano, and sing in church. As she grew older, she became attracted to Chicago’s nightlife music. She would perform secretly at different local clubs.

dinah

Provided by Google

Ruth toured with a quartet called Colored Ladies Quartet in 1940. She struggled financially for three years, and decided to move back to Chicago.

Manager of the Garrick Lounge, Joe Sheridan, convinced Washington to change her name from Ruth Jones to Dinah Washington, because it sounded better for promotional business.

Washington and Sheridan began to perform together. She performed with Lionel Hampton’s orchestra, and with Mercury Records, the label company where she recorded for 16 years.

She released 45 Billboard hits. Some of her songs included: “What a Difference a Day Makes”, “This Bitter Earth”, and “You Got What it Takes”.

Washington used her fame to help launch the careers of others, and make contributions to the civil rights movement.

Washington died in 1963 due to an accidental overdose of pills.

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Black History Month: Day 26

Sidney Bechet was an African American jazz musician. He played along the side of Josephine Baker, and recorded popular tunes such as, “Loveless Love”, and “Dear old Southland”.

Bechet was born in New Orleans, in May of 1897. His ancestry consisted of Creole. His father was a shoemaker. He came from a musical background. Most of his household consisted of musicians.

sidney1

Provided by Google

Bechet loved the clarinet. One was passed down to him from his older brother. He would consistently practice and play musical genres such as waltzes, and whatever else was popular among the middle class of New Orleans.

One day he was drawn to jazz music. He loved the rhythms and harmonies. He would skip school to sit in local jazz bands. Musician, Bunk Johnson, was drawn to young Bechet’s talent, and invited him to join to his band.

sidney2

Provided by Google

At 19 years old, Bechet left home to play Jazz with piano player, Clarence Williams, in Chicago. He was invited to join the Southern Syncopated Orchestra in London, England in 1919.

Bechet gained his fame in London. He also desired to learn another instrument. The soprano saxophone is what made him more popular.

In 1945, he moved back to the United States. He formed a band, taught music to young students, and opened a dry cleaning business. Bechet moved back to Paris after his retirement. He died in 1959.