Dee Dee Bridgewater
Few entertainers have ever commanded such depth of artistry in every medium as Dee Dee Bridgewater. Fewer still have been rewarded with Broadway’s coveted Tony Award (Best Featured Actress in a Musical – The Wiz), nominated for the London theater’s West End equivalent, the Laurence Oliver Award (Best Actress in a Musical – Lady Day), won three Grammy® Awards (2011‘s Best Jazz Vocal Album for “Eleanora Fagan: To Billie with Love from Dee Dee Bridgewater”, 1998’s Best Jazz Vocal Performance and Best Arrangement Accompanying a Vocal for “Cottontail,” and France’s 1998 top honor Victoire de la Musique (Best Jazz Vocal Album).
She has served as a sparkling ambassador for jazz since she made her phenomenal New York debut in 1970 as the lead vocalist for the band led by Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, one of the premier jazz orchestras of the time. These New York years marked an early career in concerts and on recordings with such giants as Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie and Dexter Gordon.
In 1974 she jumped at the chance to act and sing on Broadway where her voice, beauty and stage presence won her great success and a Tony Award for her role as Glinda the Good Witch in The Wiz. Dee Dee captured the hearts of audiences worldwide in The Wiz with her signature song, If You Believe. According to Nick Ashford of Ashford and Simpson, her rendition of her signature song, If You Believe, “personified a generation and gave us all hope.” Performing the lead in equally demanding acting/singing roles as Sophisticated Ladies, Cosmopolitan Greetings, Black Ballad, Carmen Jazz and the musical Cabaret (the first black actress to star as Sally Bowles), she secured her reputation as a consummate entertainer.
Dee Dee was also named Ambassador to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1999 in the battle against world hunger, and became the jazz lover’s ears and eyes on the world of live music when she took over the reigns of NPR’s JazzSet from the illustrious Branford Marsalis.