Dee Dee Bridgewater
As a sparkling ambassador for jazz, Dee Dee Bridgewater bathed in its music before she could walk. Her mother played the greatest albums of Ella Fitzgerald, whose artistry provided an inspiration for Dee Dee throughout her career. Her father was a trumpeter who taught music to Booker Little, Charles Lloyd and George Coleman, among others. It's the kind of background that leaves its mark on an adolescent, especially one who appeared solo and with a trio as soon as she was able.
Dee Dee made her New York debut in 1970 as the lead vocalist for the band led by Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, one of the premier jazz orchestras of the time. These New York years marked an early career in concerts and on recordings with such giants as Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Max Roach and Roland Kirk, and rich experiences with Norman Connors, Stanley Clarke and Frank Foster's Loud Minority.
Dee Dee doesn't care much for labels, and in 1974 she jumped at the chance to act and sing on Broadway where her voice, beauty and stage presence won her great success and a Tony Award for her role as Glinda the Good Witch in The Wiz. This began a long line of awards and accolades as well as opportunities to work in Tokyo, Los Angeles, Paris and in London where she garnered the coveted Laurence Olivier Award nomination as Best Actress for her portrayal of jazz legend Billie Holiday in Stephen Stahl's Lady Day.
Performing the lead in equally demanding acting/singing roles as Sophisticated Ladies, Cosmopolitan Greetings, Black Ballad, Carmen Jazz and the musical Cabaret (as the first black actress to star as Sally Bowles), she secured her reputation as a consummate entertainer.