Giant Steps: Jazz Greats
Courtesy of Photofest.
Dinah Washington's musical education began with the gospel music she sang in her local church choir, where her mother was a pianist. Looking to make a name for herself and to escape the poverty of her youth, she turned to popular music and quickly found success thanks to her exceptional voice. Washington began her career as a popular rhythm and blues singer, and received widespread acclaim when her single "What a Difference a Day Makes" crossed over to top the popular music charts and won her a Grammy award. Frustrated with racism when her recording label refused to promote her to some white audiences, she turned increasingly to small improvisational jazz groups where she performed some of her best work. While she was well known as "Queen of the Blues," Washington's skillful rapport with instrumental jazz musicians proved her to be one of the great female vocalists of the genre.