Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Journalist Helen Oakley Dance Dies at 88

On Sunday, May 27, jazz journalist and historian Helen Oakley Dance passed away due to complications from a heart attack and broken hip suffered two weeks earlier. She was 88.

A native of Toronto, Canada, Dance’s enthusiasm for jazz brought her to Detroit, Chicago and New York, where she organized major events for Earl Hines, Billie Holiday and Benny Goodman, and produced the legendary Ellington small-band recordings in the late 1930s. She played host to the famed Master/Variety record label parties, and was principal organizer of events at the Savoy Ballroom and Carnegie Hall that helped introduce names like Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie to the New York jazz scene.

Dance’s book Stormy Monday: the T-Bone Walker Story was recently inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame at the Blues Foundation’s annual gala event in Memphis, Tenn.

She was married to the late Stanley Dance, also a respected jazz critic and historian, and biographer and friend of Duke Ellington.

The Dances are survived by their four children, three

grandchildren and an exhaustive list of lasting contributions to the jazz world.

Originally Published