Over the course of a multifaceted career spanning four decades, Grammy and Tony Award-winning Jazz giant Dee Dee Bridgewater has ascended to the upper echelon of vocalists, putting her unique spin on standards, as well as taking intrepid leaps of faith in re-envisioning jazz classics.
Ever the fearless voyager, explorer, pioneer and keeper of tradition, the three-time Grammy-winner most recently won the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album for Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie With Love From Dee Dee. Bridgewater’s career has always bridged musical genres. She earned her first professional experience as a member of the legendary Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band, and throughout the 70’s she performed with such jazz notables as Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon and Dizzy Gillespie. After a foray into the pop world during the 1980s, she relocated to Paris and began to turn her attention back to Jazz.
Bridgewater began self-producing with her 1993 album Keeping Tradition (Polydor/Verve) and created DDB Records in 2006 when she signed with the Universal Music Group as a producer (Bridgewater produces all of her own CDs). Releasing a series of critically-acclaimed CD’s, all but one, including her wildly successful double Grammy Award-winning tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, Dear Ella – have received Grammy nominations. Bridgewater also pursued a parallel career in musical theater, winning a Tony Award for her role as “Glinda” in The Wiz in 1975. Having recently completed a run as the lead role of Billie Holiday in the off-Broadway production of Lady Day, her other theatrical credits include Sophisticated Ladies, Black Ballad, Carmen, Cabaret and the Off-Broadway and West End Productions of Lady Day, for which Bridgewater received the British Laurence Olivier Nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.
As a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Bridgewater continues to appeal for international solidarity to finance global grassroots projects in the fight against world hunger. In April 2017 was the recipient of an NEA Jazz Masters Fellows Award with honors bestowed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. In December 2017, Bridgewater was presented with the ASCAP Foundation Champions award acknowledging her charitable contributions. In 2018, Bridgewater received the prestigious Doris Duke Artist Award. 2019 brought her induction in the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in recognition of her contributions to music and in celebration of her latest CD, “Memphis, Yes…I’m Ready.” That same year, Bridgewater launched The Woodshed Network, a non-profit partnership with 651 Arts created to mentor, connect, support, and educate women in Jazz. Bridgewater serves as Artistic Director, along with Associate Artistic Director and Program Curator Tulani Bridgewater-Kowalski with lead support by The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
The Dee Dee Bridgewater Big Band is a swinging all-women Big Band in the spirit of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm and drawing on Dee Dee’s time with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. Incorporating alumnae of The Woodshed Network, Bridgewater’s non-profit program for self-identifying women in jazz, audiences should prepare to hold on to their seats. Bridgewater is “bringing it” with all the energy, dynamism and joy fans have come to expect from the legendary polymath.
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