Although I am a huge fan of Billie Holiday. I think Dinah Washington should get the same recognition as Holiday. What set Washington apart from her contemporaries was her extraordinary phrasing and diction. To this day, there hasn't been an equal, although many have tried to recreate the Dinah Washington experience.
Known as the "Queen Of The Blues," this woman was phenomenal, legend has it, she arrived at the "Hollywood Bowl" on a chilly evening in the 1950's to perform. Dinah was wrapped in a mink coat. The venue was having technical problems and the microphone didn't work properly. Dinah didn't want to disappoint her fans. She strolled out on that stage, the coat slithered to the floor and Dinah performed her entire set 'without' a microphone, her voice was just that powerful. The crowd went wild! She received a standing ovation for several minutes after the performance.
Dinah had a number of hits during her career, her signature song was "What A Difference A Day Makes." In the studio, Dinah was regarded as that rare "first take artist." She was also a good businesswoman, she co-owned a successful talent booking agency and she financially provided for her entire family. Dinah also loved furs, diamonds and expensive cars.
Offstage, Dinah lived hard and partied hard. She was also married seven times and divorced six times. She had two sons, George and Bobby.
In London, she told her audience, "There is only one heaven, one earth and one queen (me) Queen Elizabeth is an imposter. The crowd roared with laughter.
Dinah was also the godmother to singer, Patti Austin.
During her seventh marriage to football player Dick "Night Train" Lane, Dinah died from an accidental overdose of diet pills and alcohol at the age of 39 in 1963.
Click on the following link to watch a performance of Dinah Washington, Dinah Sings!