Over the course of a multifaceted career, Grammy® and Tony® Award-winning jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater reached the upper echelon of entertainers. Her talent was evident fairly early. Born Denise Garrett in Memphis, Tennessee to a trumpet-playing and educator-father, she had early exposure to jazz and the blues. She was raised however, in Flint, Michigan, incidentally, the birthplace of vocal jazz genius Betty Carter (who was long gone to Detroit by the time Dee Dee arrived). Dee Dee studied first at Michigan State University and then the University of Illinois where she met her future husband, trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater. In 1972, the couple decamped for New York and both joined the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, where Dee Dee was the principal soloist until leaving the band in 1974 for Broadway. Within a year, she had won a Tony® Award for her role in The Wiz.
Dee Dee, now on her own, moved first to Los Angeles singing pop club dates before living in Paris for several years including performing on stage in Paris and London in the featured role of Billy Holiday in Lady Day. She then returned full-time to jazz. While she has had innumerable dates with the jazz luminaries, she now focuses on the quartet format with outstanding rhythm sections.
So, how does Dee Dee Bridgewater sing? She is known for her animated, earthy, gospel-inflected bluesy, sometimes mournful, often jubilant lyrical interpretations and wordless improvisations. In addition to her performance accolades – three Grammys and a Tony Award – in 2017, Ms. Bridgewater was the recipient of the prestigious NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship award, unquestionably, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a jazz musician.