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Dee Dee Bridgewater

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Dee Dee Bridgewater (b. May 27, 1950) is an American Jazz singer. She is a two-time Grammy Award Winner, Tony Award Winner and Host of NPR’s Syndicated Radio show “JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater”. She is a United Nations Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Born Denise Eileen Garrett in Memphis, Tennessee, she grew up in Flint, Michigan. Her father, Matthew Garrett, was a jazz trumpeter and teacher at Manassas High School, and through his playing, Denise was exposed to jazz early on. At the age of sixteen, she was a member of a rock and rhythm’n’blues trio, singing in clubs in Michigan. At 18, she studied at the Michigan State University before she went to the University of Illinois. With their jazz band, she toured the Soviet Union in 1969. The next year, she met trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater, and after their marriage, they moved to New York City, where Cecil played in Horace Silver’s band.

In 1971, Dee Dee Bridgewater joined the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis orchestra as the lead vocalist. The next years marked the beginning of her jazz career, and she performed with many of the great jazz musicians of the time, such as Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Max Roach, and others. In 1974, her first own album, entitled Afro Blue, appeared, and she also performed on Broadway in the musical The Wiz. For her role as Glinda the Good Witch she won a Tony Award in 1975 as “best featured actress”, and the musical also won the 1976 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album.

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