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Dinah Washington

Dinah Washington was a popular singer from the 1950s who sang jazz, blues, R&B and pop. Her birth name was Ruth Lee Jones. She was born on August 29, 1924 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and moved to Chicago at a very young age. Her first exposure to music stemmed from the church, where she learned to play the piano and sang gospel music. Her mother was a very religious person who was deeply involved in the church. By the time she was a teenager, she was already directing the church choir and became a member of the Gospel Singers Convention. At the age of 15, she won a talent competition at Regal Theater in Chicago, and by the early 1940s, she began performing at clubs in Chicago such as “Dave’s Rhumboogie” and “The Downbeat Room” at the Sherman Hotel.

Dinah was performing at a club called “The Three Deuces” when a friend of hers took her to the Garrick Stage Bar to watch Billie Holiday perform. Not only did she get to see her idol perform, the owner of the club was so impressed with Dinah’s skills that he hired her to sing for him. Dinah and Holiday would perform together at the same venue, with Dinah performing in the upstairs room and Holiday performing downstairs. It was during this time that she switched from her birth name to her stage name. She was soon signed with a label named “Keynote” and her first recording was called “Evil Gal Blues” followed by “Salty Papa Blues”. Both songs made it to the Billboard Hits charts.

The label Dinah Washington signed on with was shut down, so she moved to Mercury Records, where her first song was “Ain’t Misbehavin”. This was a huge hit and was followed by several others such as “Am I Asking Too Much”, “Baby Get Lost”, “I Wanna Be Loved” and “Cold, Cold Heart”. Several of her songs reached No. 1 on the R&B, pop and other contemporary charts. She sang blues, jazz, pop and covers. Her music was so popular that between 1948 and 1955, she had 27 top ten hits in the R&B charts alone. She also collaborated with several other artists such as  Clifford Brown, Clark Terry, Cannonball

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