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August 29, 1924 – December 14, 1963
Dinah Washington performs a number from her Bessie Smith album in 1958.
Born, Ruth Lee Jones in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Dinah Washington moved to Chicago as a child where she started off singing and playing the piano in church, by her teens becoming a member of the "Sallie Martin Gospel Singers".
She began performing in clubs after winning a talent contest at age fifteen and proceeded to work with Fats Waller and others during the early '40s.
She would change her name to Dinah Washington just prior to going on to tour with Lionel Hampton's Orchestra.
After leaving the Hampton band in 1946 and launching her solo recording career Dinah would enjoy a string of continuous hits for 1948 to 1955 beginning with a rendition of Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'".
She went on to record with Ben Webster, Clifford Brown, Duke Ellington and Count Basie, even appearing at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival on the legendary occasion when a Johnny Gonsalves solo helped to turn the Duke's career around.
Dinah Washington has been called the 1950s' most popular black female singer and in 1993 was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall-of-Fame.
Sadly, Dinah passed away on December 14, 1963 at the young age of thirty-nine due to an overdose of prescription sleep aids.
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