WUSF All Night Jazz Focus Artist of the Week: Dee Dee Bridgewater

Dee Dee Bridgewater. Photo: NPR/Courtesy of the artist.

This week on All Night Jazz, it’s all about singer Dee Dee Bridgewater for her 70th birthday. Born in in Memphis, Tennessee on May 27, 1950, Bridgewater is a two-time Grammy Award winner, the recipient of a Tony Award and an N.E.A. Jazz Master.

Her father was a jazz musician and educator. At the age of 20, Bridgewater, with no musical training, was hired as the singer for the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra for their famous Monday Night performances at the Village Vanguard. After two years of magic with Thad and Mel, she flew on to her next transformative role, that of the Glinda Good Witch in the Broadway musical “The Wiz,” which earned her a Tony.

She eventually moved to France for a number of years before making a fabulous comeback in the 1980s. She won Grammys for both her tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, “Dear Ella,” in 1997 and again in 2010 for her Billie Holiday tribute “To Eleanora Fagan with Love from Dee Dee.”  She’s performed musical tributes to Holiday in Paris and on Broadway. She was also the host of National Public Radio’s “Jazz Set with Dee Dee Bridgewater” for 23 years.

We’ll hear the versatile voice of singer Dee Dee Bridgewater all week long on All Night Jazz.