All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Dinah Washington

Dinah Washington Dinah Washington

The versatile vocalist Dinah Washington was born Ruth Lee Jones in Tuscaloosa Alabama on August 29th 1924. She grew up in Chicago where her family moved in 1928.

Her mother was heavily involved in church community centered around St Luke’s Baptist and Dinah was surrounded by gospel and church music since her early childhood. She exhibited musical talents at an early age and was part of the church choir playing the piano and singing gospel in her early teens. At age 15, enamored by Billie Holiday, she started playing and singing the blues in local clubs and made quite a name for herself. In 1942 Lionel Hampton heard her and hired her for to front his band. Hampton claims that it was he who gave her the name Dinah Washington but other sources disagree.

Some suggest the talent agent Joe Glaser suggested the new name and others cite the manager of the bar where she was performing at the time as the person who recommended it. This was also the year when she married her firs husband; John Young (she would marry 6 more times). She remained with Lionel Hampton from 1943-1946 and during this tenure made her recording debut, a blues session produced by Leonard Feather for Keynote records. She became quite popular both as the band singer for Hampton and as a solo artist. She used her new found financial success to buy a home for her mother and sister. She left Hampton’s orchestra early 1946 while she was living in LA and shortly afterwards recorded blues sides for the small Apollo label. Her big break came very shortly afterwards when she signed with Mercury label on January 14 1946. During her stay with Mercury she recorded a number of top ten hits in a multitude of genres including blues, R&B, pop, standards, novelties, even country. She never was strictly a jazz singer but did record number of jazz sessions with some of the most influential musicians of the day including Cannonball Adderley, Clark Terry, and Ben Webster. Her most memorable jazz recording is with Clifford Brown; the classic Dinah Jams from 1955.

Read more






Billie Holiday Billie Holiday
voice / vocals
Sarah Vaughan Sarah Vaughan
voice / vocals
Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald
voice / vocals
Lena Horne Lena Horne
voice / vocals
Bessie Smith Bessie Smith
voice / vocals
Carmen McRae Carmen McRae
voice / vocals
Aretha Franklin Aretha Franklin
voice / vocals
James Brown James Brown
voice / vocals
Dee Dee Bridgewater Dee Dee Bridgewater
voice / vocals
Dakota Staton Dakota Staton
voice / vocals
Nancy Wilson Nancy Wilson
voice / vocals
Anita O'Day Anita O'Day
voice / vocals
Kay Starr Kay Starr
voice / vocals

Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.