Soulful Voices: The Greatest Ladies Of Jazz – Part 1
“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald – Summertime
NANCY WILSON LIVE – GUESS WHO I SAW TODAY
Women have contributed an impressive, far ranging body of work to the soulful sounds of Jazz music and, over the next several Saturdays, I’ll share songs from some of the best female jazz voices we have enjoyed listening for many, many years. Each week, I’ll share between 8-10 of the greatest female jazz vocalists with you. This week we have 10 of the best ladies of jazz; the creme de la creme of the genre. I have not placed them in any particular order but will add the names and music organically each week with all the best eventually included in this series of songs. For their full biographies, I’ll link to their Wikipedia page or personal websites. Enjoy the music and come back for more. Above, The First lady of Song, gifted jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald opens with a rendition of one of her most famous songs. The talented Nancy Wilson who, in addition to Jazz, experimented early in her career with pop and R & B, follows with a great song.
“I can’t stand to sing the same song the same way two nights in succession. If you can, then it ain’t music, it’s close order drill, or exercise or yodeling or something, not music.” Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit
Carmen McRae – Body and Soul
Billie Holiday known also as Lady Day had a horrible childhood and poured all her pain and anguish into her powerful bluesy jazz songs. Strange Fruit is a classic and speaks of the horrors of a dark period in American history – lynching. Carmen McRae developed her musical chops singing in NY Night clubs. She is considered a protege of Billie Holiday. Body and Soul sizzles under her technical mastery.
“When I sing, trouble can sit right on my shoulder and I don’t even notice.” Sarah Vaughan
Sarah Vaughan – The Sassy One
Ernestine Anderson – Moanin (BBB 1967)
Interestingly, even though “Sassy” Sarah Vaughan , who started her career singing and playing piano in church, is included in many top ten lists of Jazz divas, she didn’t always accept that jazz was her musical style, however, her musical choices/body of work includes some of the most loved jazz songs. Ernestine Anderson started her illustrious musical career at age 12 singing with the Russell Jacquet big band. She enjoyed critical acclaim but, during hard times in the 1960s, she moved to Europe, returning in the 1970s to continue performing her popular songs. More Below! 🙂
“There is only one heaven, one earth and one queen (me) Queen Elizabeth is an impostor.” Dinah Washington
Dinah Washington – What Difference A Day Makes
Shirley Horn – Here’s To Life (1992)
Dinah Washington aptly known as “Queen of the Blues” for her blues and R&B songs, started her musical journey as a gospel singer in Chicago. Born Ruth Lee Jones, she took on the new name while performing with Lionel Hampton and her star grew brighter as she continued to showcase her unique voice. Shirley Horn sang and played piano as a child in Washington DC and built her career performing in local clubs including one she owned in the DC area. In the 1980s, she ventured outside DC and grew a worldwide following.
“I sing the songs that people need to hear.” Etta James
Etta James – At Last
Nina Simone – Ain’t Got No…I’ve Got Life
Originally from South Carolina, Etta James moved to New York as a young lady and tasted early success with her hugely popular song “Don’t Go to Strangers.” Even as she struggled with addiction, she continued to perform her songs including the ever memorable: At Last; an ode to her personal struggles and triumphs. Nina Simone was a talented singer from even her early childhood days in the church choir. Her musical strength continued to flourish especially during the civil Rights movement when she wrote and performed protest songs. She moved to Europe in the 1970s and only returned occasionally to perform in the USA. Her contribution is fierce. Enjoy!
Stay Inspired! What are your thoughts? What music are you listening to this weekend? Do you have any favorites you’d like to share? Which new voices would you recommend? Do share! Thank you.
*Please bear with me as I continue to catch up on your blogs and commenting… Thank you all for your patience!
For More: Women’s Lives & Issues
Positive Motivation Tip: Music is fuel that feeds our soul. It can be both passionate and poignant, divinely inspired or disconcerting. Either way, it touches something inside us… Celebrate soulful sounds.
- D.C. Jazz Festival bringing soul to the city (wjla.com)
- “Turing’s Cathedral”: Gods of the digital universe (salon.com)
- “American Dreams,” New CD by Jazz Vocalist Laurie Antonioli, Due June 22 from Her Intrinsic Label Imprint (billboardpublicitywire.com)
- 10 Best Jazz Love Songs (mademan.com)
- William Gottlieb’s Iconic Photos of Jazz Greats, 1938-1948 (brainpickings.org)
- Bella Donna: Billie Holiday (bellasugar.com)
- Showcase: Not just all that jazz (thehindu.com)
- Esperanza Spalding Stays the Jazz Course While Norah Jones Gets Indie (Column) (popmatters.com)