Dinah Washington: The Queen of Blues


Dinah Washington, also known as “the Queen of Blues,” was a popular African-American, female artist of the 1940s and 1950s.

Washington, whose birth name was Ruth Lee Jones, was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on August 29 of 1924. When she moved to Chicago, as a young child, Washington become involved in the church choir and developed a love of music. She also learned to play the piano and as a teenager joined the Sallie Martin Gospel singers.

At the age of 15, she began singing in night clubs. One night, while performing at Three Deuces night club, a friend took her to hear Billie Holiday sing at Garrick Stage Bar. She was discovered there by  talent-scout, Joe Sherman, who after listening to Washington sing, offered her a job there.  She began singing with Lionel Hampton and she changed her name from Ruth Lee Jones to Dinah Washington, at the suggestion of Joe Sherman. She made her first  recording  label with the Keynote company in 1944. Her songs Evil Gal Blues and Salty Papa Blues made the Harlem Hit Parade Billboard charts. She continued to perform and record up through the 1950s and in 1959, she had her first major pop hit, What a Diff’rence a Day Makes. Her performance would also earn her a Grammy that same year.

Dinah Washington received many accolades, including being inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & the Grammy Hall of Fame, posthumously.

Dinah Washington had several different marriages throughout her life, even though it wasn’t thought highly of for a woman to be divorced, multiple times, in her era, Washington made no apologies for who she was. She marched to her own drum and did what made her happy. She died, while asleep beside her seventh husband on December 14, 1963.


Check out her singing below-

What A Diff’rence a Day Makes-

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