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Blues and Dinah Washington

This paper is an examination of the life of blues singer Dinah Washington, who had a strong influence on the development of American rhythm and blues. Born Ruth Jones, she changed her name to one she believed would be more marketable, began singing professionally in her teens, and cut her first record at 19. Known as the "Queen of the Blues," she eventually showed her versatility with virtually any type of repertoire. She was married numerous times, and her tumultuous personal life included addictions to drugs and alcohol, leading to her untimely death at 39. Nevertheless, her musical talents made her a powerful success and a strong influence on later singers, especially Aretha Franklin, Esther Phillips, Nancy Wilson, and Ernestine Anderson. The warmth of her voice combined with distinctive phrasing to turn a variety of standard ballads into new compositions, creating distinctive and inspiring music.

Ruth Lee Jones was born August, 1924, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; since the births of black babies frequently went unrecorded in the South, the exact date has been noted as August 8, August 22, and August 29. Her father, Oldie Jones, was a gambler who was frequently away from home. Her mother, Alice Williams Jones, worked as a domestic, which also kept her from spending much time with Ruth and her brother, Harold.

Around 1927 or 1928, the family moved to Chicago, following a sizable black migration that was occurring in America at that time; Jim Haskins notes, "Between 1910 and 1930 almost two hundred thousand [southern blacks] migrated to that city, turning the South Side into one of the largest black ghettos in the nation." Once Ruth started school, she came to realize how poor her family was; as a recent migrant from the South, she was at the bottom of the social hierarchy in the black community.

However, she had already begun to show talent as a singer and piano player, singing gospel in the local Baptist church and l...

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Blues and Dinah Washington. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 06:57, August 19, 2022, from https://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/1708072.html