From intimate trio formats to big band, she does it all with seductive sophistication. Her sultry, sensuous voice is intimate in small club settings and soars with passionate intensity in the festival arena. Whether it's Ellington or Sting, Ms. Anderson's interpretation of a song is infectious. On stage, she's charming and vivacious, her joy in the music delighting audiences from Sweden to Japan.
Ernestine Anderson has recorded more than 30 albums, performed at all the major jazz festivals, and has received four Grammy nominations. She was one of 75 women chosen for the book, I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America, by Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Brian Lanker, joining such company as Rosa Parks, Leontyne Price, Barbara Jordan, and Toni Morrison.
Born in Houston, Texas, on November 11, 1928, into a musical family, Ernestine grew up listening to the blues. As a child, she joined her father and grandmother singing gospel. When she was twelve, Ernestine entered a talent contest and so impressed trumpeter Russell Jacquet that he hired her on the spot to sing with his big band.
When she was 18, she left Seattle, where her family had moved in 1944, to tour for a year with the Johnny Otis band. In 1952, she went on tour with Lionel Hampton's orchestra. After a year with the legendary band, she settled in New York, determined to make her way as a singer. In 1955, she cut a few tracks with alto saxophonist GiGi Gryce, which brought her to the attention of the larger jazz world.