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.
She subsequently appeared in several other stage productions. After touring France in 1984 with the musical Sophisticated Ladies, she moved to Paris in 1986. The same year saw her in Lady Day as Billie Holliday, for which role she was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, she returned from the world of musical to jazz. She performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1990, and four years later, she finally collaborated with Horace Silver, whom she had admired for a long time, and released the album Love and Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver. Her 1997 tribute album Dear Ella won her the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album, and the 1998 album Live at Yoshi’s was also worth a Grammy nomination. She has also explored on This is New the songs of Kurt Weill, and, on her latest album J’ai Deux Amours, the French Classics.
Dee Dee Bridgewater is the first American to be inducted to the Haut Conseil de la Francophonie. She has received the Award of Arts and Letters in France.
Dee Dee Bridgewater is mother to three children, Tulani Bridgewater (from her marriage to Cecil Bridgewater), China Moses (from her marriage to theater, film and television director Gilbert Moses) and Gabriel Durand (from her current marriage to French concert promoter Jean-Marie Durand).
Edited by koknah on 4 Aug 2009, 10:41
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