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Dee Dee Bridgewater

A performer who always puts on an exciting and extroverted show, Dee Dee Bridgewater has been a major jazz singer since at least the late 1980s and has had a wide-ranging career. Born and raised in Memphis, Bridgewater had a father who was a trumpeter and a music teacher. She performed in Michigan in the 1960s and toured the Soviet Union in 1969 with the University Of Illinois Big Band. After marrying trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater, she moved to New York in 1970. Dee Dee sang with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra and with such notables as Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Max Roach and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

In 1974 she switched careers, singing and acting on Broadway as Glinda the Good Witch in The Wiz. She spent years as an actress in a variety of productions including playing Billie Holiday in Lady Day, and had commercial success with her R&B-oriented recordings. While living in France in the late 1980s, she returned to the jazz world, appearing at festivals and forming her own group. Her recordings since then have included an innovative tribute to Horace Silver’s music (Love And Peace), Dear Ella, the songs of Kurt Weill (This Is New), a thank you to the people of France (J’ai Deux Amours), and her latest, a groundbreaking set of adaptations of music inspired by Mali (Red Earth). In addition to her singing, Dee Dee Bridgewater is the host of the NPR syndicated radio series Jazz Set with Dee Dee Bridgewater, and she is a United Nations ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization.