Dinah Washington was into her ninth marriage when, on December 14, 1963, she died suddenly at her Detroit home. She was just 39. The cause ? A fatal heart attack brought on by washing down diet and sleeping pills with alcohol. Nine husbands could be short of the final count. Those who knew Dinah have suggested that a couple of additional nuptials may have gone unrecorded.
Aside from countless one night stands, flings, affairs and breaking up the marriage of producer Quincy Jones, could it be that the lady wasn't terminally lusty, but just addicted to wedding cake ! "I change husbands before they change me" was her defence. Self-styling herself as everything from 'Queen Of The Jukeboxes' to 'Queen Of The Blues', eventually settling on 'The Queen', Dinah wasn't overly concerned with attempts to categorize her natural talent. "I don't think of myself as anything except a singer. I like to sing, and I'll sing ballads, church songs, blues, anything ….. people who call me a blues singer don't understand what I'm doing. I used to specialise in blues and I still sing them, but I'm not restricted to any one kind of song. To me, the important thing is soul and conviction… you've got to have feeling".
The full extent of her artistry is to be heard on these revealing broadcasts from Birdland, where she always played to standing-room-only crowds. Here, Dinah Washington's boisterous behaviour was more akin to her hosting no-holds barred private parties as opposed to a paid-for public performance. Throughout, Dinah is accompanied by the Wynton Kelly Trio.
Whatever the song, it was impossible to confuse Dinah Washington with any other singer. Her voice was high-pitched, full on, and highly emotive. Gifted with precise cut-glass diction and perfect pitch, her delivery stretched from an intimate whisper to an orgasmic scream that could cut through concrete. A formidable weapon, Dinah's voice dug deep into the listener's emotions, leaving many an audience tear stained.
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I'll Never Be Free / I Cross My Fingers / Harbor Lights / Only A Moment Ago / I Wanna Be Loved / My Heart Cries For You / Time Out For Tears / It's Too Soon To Know / New York, Chicago And Los Angeles / Baby Get Lost / Dinah Raps / I Wanna Be Loved / I Won't Cry Anymore / Please Send Me Someone To Love / Tell Me Why / Cold Cold Heart / Wheel Of Fortune / Mixed Emotions / Blow Top Blues / It's Too Soon To Know / Only A Moment Ago / Make Believe Dreams / Journey's End / Dinah Raps / It's Magic / I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)