Tuesday Open Thread |Our Gems Week: Dinah Washington

We continue Our Gems Week with Dinah Washington.


DInah Washington-1
Dinah Washington (born Ruth Lee Jones; August 29, 1924 – December 14, 1963), was an American singer and pianist, who has been cited as “the most popular black female recording artist of the ’50s”.[1] Primarily a jazz vocalist, she performed and recorded in a wide variety of styles including blues, R&B, and traditional pop music,[1] and gave herself the title of “Queen of the Blues”.[2] She was a 1986 inductee of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame,[3] and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

Life and career[edit]
Ruth Lee Jones was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and moved to Chicago as a child. She became deeply involved in gospel and played piano for the choir in St. Luke’s Baptist Church while still in elementary school. She sang gospel music in church and played piano, directing her church choir in her teens and being a member of the Sallie Martin Gospel Singers. She sang lead with the first female gospel singers formed by Ms. Martin, who was co-founder of the Gospel Singers Convention. Her involvement with the gospel choir occurred after she won an amateur contest at Chicago’s Regal Theater where she sang “I Can’t Face the Music”.[4]

After winning a talent contest at the age of 15, she began performing in clubs. By 1941–42 she was performing in such Chicago clubs as Dave’s Rhumboogie and the Downbeat Room of the Sherman Hotel (with Fats Waller). She was playing at the Three Deuces, a jazz club, when a friend took her to hear Billie Holiday at the Garrick Stage Bar. Club owner Joe Sherman was so impressed with her singing of “I Understand”, backed by the Cats and the Fiddle, who were appearing in the Garrick’s upstairs room, that he hired her. During her year at the Garrick – she sang upstairs while Holiday performed in the downstairs room – she acquired the name by which she became known. She credited Joe Sherman with suggesting the change from Ruth Jones, made before Lionel Hampton came to hear Dinah at the Garrick.[4] Hampton’s visit brought an offer, and Washington worked as his female band vocalist after she had sung with the band for its opening at the Chicago Regal Theatre.

She made her recording debut for the Keynote label that December with “Evil Gal Blues”, written by Leonard Feather and backed by Hampton and musicians from his band, including Joe Morris (trumpet) and Milt Buckner (piano).[1][5][6] Both that record and its follow-up, “Salty Papa Blues”, made Billboard’s “Harlem Hit Parade” in 1944.[7]

She stayed with Hampton’s band until 1946, after the Keynote label folded, signed for Mercury Records as a solo singer. Her first record for Mercury, a version of Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin'”, was another hit, starting a long string of success. Between 1948 and 1955, she had 27 R&B top ten hits, making her one of the most popular and successful singers of the period. Both “Am I Asking Too Much” (1948) and “Baby Get Lost” (1949) reached Number 1 on the R&B chart, and her version of “I Wanna Be Loved” (1950) crossed over to reach Number 22 on the US pop chart.[7] Her hit recordings included blues, standards, novelties, pop covers, and even a version of Hank Williams’ “Cold, Cold Heart” (R&B Number 3, 1951). At the same time as her biggest popular success, she also recorded sessions with many leading jazz musicians, including Clifford Brown and Clark Terry on the album Dinah Jams (1954), and also recorded with Cannonball Adderley and Ben Webster.[1][6]

In 1959, she had her first top ten pop hit, with a version of “What a Diff’rence a Day Made”,[8] which made Number 4 on the US pop chart. Her band at that time included arranger Belford Hendricks, with Kenny Burrell (guitar), Joe Zawinul (piano), and Panama Francis (drums). She followed it up with a version of Irving Gordon’s “Unforgettable”, and then two highly successful duets in 1960 with Brook Benton, “Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)” (No. 5 Pop, No. 1 R&B) and “A Rockin’ Good Way (To Mess Around and Fall in Love)” (No. 7 Pop, No. 1 R&B). Her last big hit was “September in the Rain” in 1961 (No. 23 Pop, No. 5 R&B).[7]

In the 1950s and early 60s before her death, Washington occasionally performed on the Las Vegas Strip. Tony Bennett said of Washington during a recording session with Amy Winehouse: “She was a good friend of mine, you know. She was great. She used to just come in with two suitcases in Vegas without being booked. And she’d just come in and put the suitcases down. And she’d say “I’m here, boss”. And she’d stay as long as she wanted. And all the kids in all the shows on the Strip would come that night. They’d hear that she’s in town and it would be packed just for her performance”.

“[Washington] was at once one of the most beloved and controversial singers of the mid-20th century – beloved to her fans, devotees, and fellow singers; controversial to critics who still accuse her of selling out her art to commerce and bad taste. Her principal sin, apparently, was to cultivate a distinctive vocal style that was at home in all kinds of music, be it R&B, blues, jazz, middle of the road pop – and she probably would have made a fine gospel or country singer had she the time. Hers was a gritty, salty, high-pitched voice, marked by absolute clarity of diction and clipped, bluesy phrasing…”

Washington was well known for singing torch songs.[10] In 1962, Dinah hired a male backing trio called the Allegros, consisting of Jimmy Thomas on drums, Earl Edwards on sax, and Jimmy Sigler on organ. Edwards was eventually replaced on sax by John Payne. A Variety writer praised their vocals as “effective choruses”.[4]

Washington’s achievements included appearances at the Newport Jazz Festival (1955–59), the Randalls Island Jazz Festival in New York City (1959), and the International Jazz Festival in Washington D.C. (1962), frequent gigs at Birdland (1958, 1961–62), and performances in 1963 with Count Basie and Duke Ellington.

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47 Responses to Tuesday Open Thread |Our Gems Week: Dinah Washington

  1. Liza says:

    This thing that H.Clinton has for Israel is not good, in my opinion.

    Is Clinton Moving to the Right of Trump on Israel-Palestine? A Debate on the Candidates & AIPAC https://t.co/X8CXiQVB83— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) March 22, 2016


  2. rikyrah says:

    I love these pics

    Michelle Obama Is Dope. These Pictures Explain Why

    Check out some of our absolute favorite pictures of the first lady, Michelle Obama.


    Posted: March 19 2016 3:00 AM

    We. Love. Michelle.

    There aren’t many ways to say it, but believe us. This love is real.

    In 2009, Michelle Obama moved into the White House and into the hearts of Americans. Her brilliant smile and sartorial splendor caught our attention—because, yeah. She’s fly. But we attribute Michelle Obama’s staying power to her substance, intelligence and strength of character.

  3. rikyrah says:

    Zoë Kravitz: Black People Can Act; Stop Asking Us to Play the ‘Best Friend’ or a Caricature of Ourselves
    She’s writing her own projects because she’s tired of how limiting it can be for black actors in Hollywood.

    Posted: March 18 2016 2:09 PM

    Black Americans are thought to be on the fringes of American society, so when they’re auditioning for roles in mainstream films and TV shows, they’re often asked to play the supporting role of the best friend or the sidekick. The roles are rarely substantive or meaty—just peripheral characters that come in and out of white people’s lives.

    Or, when they are asked to have a dominant presence in a film, they’re asked to play a character that’s a stereotype reflecting how the mainstream views black people: funny, ghetto, sassy or an overly opinionated talking head.

    That’s the experience Zoë Kravitz says she has time and time again whenever she wants to audition for a role. Except she’s a “quirky black girl” in the filmmakers’ eyes, so they want her to play those kinds of characters.

    “People have tried to do that to me over and over again, and I’ve been fighting it and fighting it,” Kravitz said during an interview with the Associated Press.

    “I would get auditions and it would be like, ‘They want you to play the best friend.’ And it’s like, ‘Why can’t I audition for the lead?’ Then it’ll be like, ‘OK, now you’re the quirky black girl,’ or ‘Now you’re a hippie,’ ” she explained.

    Kravitz is an actress. That means she can act, and she wishes Hollywood executives would get that: “I can play all kinds of people. I don’t have to play myself.”


  4. rikyrah says:

    The Definition, Danger and Disease of Respectability Politics, Explained
    The idea has resulted in some of the most forgettable parts of black history.

    Posted: March 21 2016 4:44 PM

    So, I’m kinda new to all of this new age social-justice stuff. Of course, I’ve always been aware of what racism and sexism and bias meant, but some of the terminology used to describe specific examples of it—i.e., microaggressions, white privilege, street harassment, etc.—were also new to me and it took a while to understand what they meant. But I do now.

    One term, however, that I don’t quite understand yet is the concept of respectability politics. Would you mind breaking it down for me?

    Sure! Although the concept of respectability politics has existed for a very long time, the term itself is relatively new. Author and professor Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham is credited with first articulating it; it appears in her 1993 book Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880-1920. It’s generally defined as what happens when minority and/or marginalized groups are told (or teach themselves) that in order to receive better treatment from the group in power, they must behave better.

    As alluded to earlier, it’s a concept that has existed within black America since black people have been in America—the idea that if we walk a little straighter and write a little neater and speak a little clearer, then white people will treat us better. This belief has resulted in some of the most forgettable parts of black history. The Black History Month lessons we really, really, really, really don’t want to be taught.


  5. rikyrah says:

    This video is awesome.

    Go to the post and see it.

    Damon Young, 3/21/16


  6. rikyrah says:



    Brandon Harrison, 3/22/16

    The Internet has returned the singular image to the forefront of creative ideation. Interconnectivity has destroyed our patience for content and thusly videos have taken a backseat to memes. Memes, reaction gifs, viral videos all move ideas through the internet at rapid pace. But memes in particular allow an unprecedented consolidation of pop culture and shared emotion within the overarching milieu of greater culture. The cross sections of meaning create a multiplication of thought that embrace pointed nuance. If pictures are worth a thousand words than a picture multiplied by black bordered white impact text has to be worth at least a million.

    This effect is even more noticeable within the African American community. Black twitter pushes more trends into the mainstream than any other subculture. While there are many niche communities on the internet creating content, they are regularly sequestered to the nerd zone. “Black cool” still has clout in the online world and the memes have been and will continue to flourish. The immediacy of the internet has made inevitable commodification arrive much faster than in the past, so, I had to unveil these now before they’re individually sponsored by Bevel.

  7. rikyrah says:

    hat tip-BJ

    Beyond Good and Evil
    The Virtue of Being Ted Cruz
    March 11, 2016

    I had a terrible realization while watching a widely viewed YouTube video of Ted Cruz at age 18, valedictorian of the class of 1988, sitting in front of a fountain at Second Baptist School in Houston, Texas, joking with a friend about his aspirations to “be in a teen tit film”—Ted Cruz and I are just about the same age. Some other things we have in common: We are both from Calgary, a gas and oil town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Western Canada. We are both the sons of alcoholics who abandoned their families early and then turned things around through religion (Cruz’s father became a Christian evangelical, mine a Rosicrucian). We are both Texas boys: He moved from Calgary to Houston when he was four, I moved from Calgary to Fort Worth when I was 16, and both of us have spent much of our adult lives in Austin, Texas. We both have daughters: Ted has two, ages five and seven, I have three, aged 21, eleven and nine. As professor of philosophy at a Midwestern university, I believe that I am a reasonably intelligent person, and I have no doubt that Ted Cruz, a Princeton and Harvard graduate and champion debater, is exceptionally smart.


    There is a mistaken idea popular among liberal pundits that we are presently witnessing a race to the bottom between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, and that the craving for authority driving Trump’s popularity among primary voters is the same primal force behind Cruz’s candidacy. On this account, Trump and Cruz are appealing to the same voter—Trump is besting Cruz because he is better at playing the fascist. Trump understands populism, while Cruz does not; Trump can evoke and articulate our ugliest xenophobic fears (The wall will be 30 feet high! Fifty feet high!), while Cruz ineffectively appeals to his track record of combating the Gang of Eight. (Who are they again?) Trump speaks in the vernacular of a third-grader, bad versus good, winners versus losers; Ted Cruz, despite his best efforts to impersonate a good ol’ boy, winds up showing off his Ivy League credentials and alienating his own base. Despite, or perhaps because of, his nerdiness, he just can’t figure out how to become the demagogue the Republican Party so ardently desires.

    But Cruz and Trump are in fact appealing to different segments of the Republican Party, and they know it. Trump is the candidate of the disoriented, the confused, the needy; Cruz is the candidate of the dogmatist, the moralist, the convicted. Trump gets the voters who fear and adore; Cruz gets the voters who hate and resent. Trump is all show; Cruz means what he says. Trump wants to be everybody’s boss; Cruz wants to be everybody’s master. Ted Cruz is much, much more dangerous than Donald Trump.

  8. rikyrah says:

    The fight for congressional control takes an unexpected turn
    03/21/16 12:40 PM
    By Steve Benen
    It’s been clear for quite a while that the Senate is up for grabs in 2016. Republicans are in the majority, but they’re defending 24 seats to the Democrats’ 10, and Dems only need a net gain of 5 seats to push the GOP back into the minority. Given the various factors – recruiting, fundraising, turnout projections – Democrats are feeling cautious optimism.

    And while the upper chamber is obviously critically important, we have plenty of experience in recent years witnessing Congress’ dysfunction at a time of divided control, with Democrats in the Senate majority and Republicans in control of the House. But thanks to 2010 redistricting, the GOP majority in the lower chamber is practically untouchable.

    Or is it? The non-partisan Cook Political Report published a report late last week that raised some eyebrows.
    Republicans are sitting on their largest majority since 1928 – 247 seats to 188 – meaning Democrats would need to pick up 30 seats, a daunting challenge given the GOP’s immense redistricting advantage and the vaporization of swing districts. But all cycle, Democrats have daydreamed about Republicans nominating an extremely polarizing presidential candidate, and suddenly it’s almost certain they will get their wish.

    A Trump or Cruz nomination wouldn’t guarantee a down-ballot disaster for the GOP, but operatives on both sides admit it would inject much more uncertainty into races – especially if it were Trump…. David Wasserman, who monitors House races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, says there is now the POSSIBILITY that the House of Representatives could flip with either Trump or Ted Cruz at the top of the ticket.
    Politico added this morning, “Donald Trump is on the verge of two things once thought to be impossible: winning the Republican presidential nomination, and putting Republicans’ historically large House majority in danger.”


  9. rikyrah says:

    Uh Uh Uh

    My brush with North Carolina voter ID law
    By Rudy Ravindra

    I went to vote during the early voting period in the North Carolina primaries. I am aware of the new law that requires a person to present a photo ID in order to vote.

    I gave my driver’s license to a poll worker, HW. He kept it face down and ordered me to spell my name.
    Although I go by Rudy, my legal name is Rudravajhala. In order to save time, I requested HW look at my ID. He barked, “You gotta spell it!”
    So I took a deep breath and began. “R-U-D-”

    He repeated after me and typed each letter. When he typed a B instead of a D, I had to correct him, “It’s not B; it’s D for dog.”

    This farce went on a for a while, and each time he made a mistake, I patiently corrected. Meanwhile, voters in adjacent lines came and went briskly. I heaved a sigh of relief when HW finally entered my mouthful of a name into his computer and peered at the monitor. And then I had to pronounce it, and when he tried, he couldn’t get it right.

    He asked, “Your address?”

    With a tight smile, I gave it. Already my blood pressure was quite high, and I knew if this charade continued, I might be tempted to walk out without voting. But luckily the ordeal came to an end, and with a smirk HW declared that I am the perfect voter. I almost told him that he is the perfect so and so. But I bit my tongue, as I was concerned that in these trigger happy days, HW might summon the police to haul me off.

    Since my wife was out of town last week, I drove her to the designated polling place (not the same place I voted) on Election Day. This time poll worker NX subjected my wife to a similar ritual. Keeping her ID face down, he asked her to spell her name and pronounce it.

    Our two Caucasian friends who live in different areas of town voted at different polling places. In contrast to our humiliating experience, however, they did not have to pass the spelling test and after a cursory glance at their IDs were allowed to vote.

    My wife and I couldn’t help but feel that we were singled out. The poll workers could have simply looked at our IDs and saved a lot of time. That in a sea of white faces at both polling stations my wife and I were the only brown-skinned individuals also led us to suspect that we were victims of racial prejudice. In these days of Trumpism and shameless xenophobia and other assorted phobias, we can’t be blamed if we are paranoid.

    I called the N.C. State Board of Elections in Raleigh and was pleasantly surprised when a live person answered. The moment she realized that a difficult situation was at hand, I was transferred to her superior. He listened to my saga patiently and suggested that I lodge a formal complaint with the director of the New Hanover County Board of Elections. He also promised to email the director.

    When the director called me, he was understanding and appeared to empathize with my plight. He said that the poll workers overstepped their authority and that they had no reason to subject us to that unnecessary exercise. He said poll workers only have to look at a photo ID to ascertain the bonafide of a voter. He apologized profusely.

  10. Ametia says:


    and of course are attempting to make the case for the CRAZY GOP, and how they’re gonna make AMERIKKKA safer. Even going on to quote Trump.


  11. rikyrah says:

    There were two good comments over at BJ about the FBI/Apple situation:

    Comment 1:

    randy khan says:

    March 22, 2016 at 12:47 am

    @🌷 Martin:

    It occurred to me a little while back that the FBI totally miscalculated. They thought they were dealing with a phone company – the phone companies always do what law enforcement wants so long as there’s a court order to protect them from lawsuits because the phone companies don’t care about their customers. Instead, they were dealing with a technology company, and those companies don’t really care if law enforcement likes them, but they do care – a lot – about what their customers think.

    Also, and this is consistent with my experience in other areas, I think the FBI was totally outgunned on the technical issues.

    Comment 2:

    🌷 Martin says:

    March 22, 2016 at 1:12 am

    @randy khan:

    Instead, they were dealing with a technology company

    Worse, they were dealing with Apple. Apple isn’t like most other tech companies because one of Apple’s core premises has always been trust with users. Devices are predictably (high) priced, predictably reliable, no surprises in terms of crapware, carrier influence, and so on. It’s a lot harder to stop being an Apple customer than it is to start. Google and Facebooks core premise is that everyone is a customer because it’s free – users have pretty low expectations when they aren’t paying anything. They measure their customer bases in % of humans alive. Both are approaching 25% of all humans.Their services are compelling because everyone uses them.

    Apple relies on holding onto a smaller number of customers (still closing in on a billion, however) but having them come back year after year. That’s what the Apple stores do, and it drives so many of their decisions. Apple was going to fight to the death over this because they know from experience that trust is so hard to win back once lost, and because they have so much now invested in their security push (nobody else is designing custom hardware for security, and they’ve largely reinvented how to do secure transactions within ApplePay).

    But Apple was also a bad target because Apple executives honest to god believe in this cause and they literally have more money than the US government to fight this. DOJ budget is ~$25B. That’s half a year’s profits for Apple. I know that they are working furiously to make sure that under no circumstances can they unlock the next iPhone (already pretty close with the 5S onward). I also believe that if the US passes a law mandating that they engineer a back door into the device that they will move the company abroad.

    But that may also have been part of the FBIs plan. The FBI has to suspect that there is nothing of value on that phone, so winning or losing on that narrow issue is likely not important. What’s more important is gaining the means to unlock the next device, which might be a lot more urgent. Today this really felt like a play to force Congress to act. Not sure that’s going to work either, though.

  12. rikyrah says:

    Am I the only one sitting here with pursed lips about the FBI ‘ suddenly’ getting the info they need to open the San Bernadino shooter’s phone?


  13. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone. :)))

  14. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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