Dinah Washington: Legendary Voice

By Associated Booking Corporation/photo by James Kriegsmann, New York – eBayfrontback, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34768409

Rolling Stone journalist Gerry Hershey makes the claim, “If there is a paramount body for evidence to support the feminist poster ‘Sisterhood is powerful,’ it is Dinah Washington’s 1958 LP tribute to the Empress, The Bessie Smith Songbook.” Dinah Washington is one of the all-time great vocalists who immediately took ownership of any song she sang. In addition to a great set of pipes, she had a good head for business, running a restaurant in Detroit and a booking agency, Queen Attractions, where she signed talent like Muhammad Ali and Sammy Davis, Jr. Able to juggle many different gambits, Washington also dominated the stage of the Flame Show Bar and Detroit’s Twenty Grand Club where future superstars Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, and Aretha Franklin sat enthralled, watching a master at work. Motown was just gearing up when Dinah Washington died accidentally of an unfortunate combination of pills and alcohol. A legend in her own time, she is rumored to have married as many as nine times before her untimely demise at age thirty-nine. Dinah Washington, one of the most gifted singers the to have ever held a microphone, lived large, predated the excess of rock stars with peroxide wigs, and a home filled with gorgeous cut crystal chandeliers, and toilet-seat covers made from mink!

This excerpt is from The Book of Awesome Women by Becca Anderson, which is available now through Amazon and Mango Media.

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