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Dee Dee Bridgewater (née Denise Garrett, May 27, 1950) is an American jazz singer. She is a three-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, as well as a Tony Award-winning stage actress. For 23 years, she was the host of National Public Radio's syndicated radio show JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater.[1] She is a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization.[2]

Dee Dee Bridgewater
Dee dee.jpg
Background information
Birth nameDenise Eileen Garrett
Born (1950-05-27) May 27, 1950 (age 69)
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
OriginMemphis, TN & Flint, MI
Occupation(s)Singer, Actress, Producer, Songwriter, UN Goodwill Ambassador, Radio Host
Years active1966–present
LabelsDDB Records, Sony Masterworks, OKeh Records, Verve, Elektra, MCA
Associated actsThad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Horace Silver, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rawlins, Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Carter, Billie Holiday, Theo Croker, China Moses, Ray Charles, Stanley Clark, Sarah Vaughn, Max Roach, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Dexter Gordon, Herbie Hancock



Born Denise Eileen Garrett in Memphis, Tennessee, she was raised Catholic in Flint, Michigan. Her father, Matthew Garrett, was a jazz trumpeter and teacher at Manassas High School, and through his playing, she was exposed to jazz early on. At the age of sixteen, she was a member of a Rock and Rhythm 'n' Blues trio, singing in clubs in Michigan. At 18, she studied at Michigan State University before she went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. With the school's jazz band, she toured the Soviet Union in 1969.[3]

The next year, she met trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater, and after their marriage, they moved to New York City, where Cecil played in Horace Silver's band. In the early 1970s, Bridgewater joined the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra as lead vocalist.[4] This marked the beginning of her jazz career, and she performed with many of the great jazz musicians of the time, such as Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Max Roach, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and others. She performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1973. In 1974, her first solo album, entitled Afro Blue, appeared, and she performed on Broadway in the musical The Wiz.[5] For her role as Glinda the Good Witch she won a Tony Award in 1975 as "Best Featured Actress", and the musical also won the 1976 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album.

In concert in 1990

She subsequently appeared in several other stage productions. After touring France in 1984 with the musical Sophisticated Ladies, she moved to Paris in 1986. The same year saw her in Lady Day, as Billie Holiday, for which role she was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award, as well as recording the song "Precious Thing" with Ray Charles, featured on her album Victim of Love.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, she returned from the world of Pop and Contemporary R'nB to Jazz. She performed at the Sanremo Music Festival in Italy and the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1990, and four years later, she finally collaborated with Horace Silver, whom she had long admired, and released the album Love and Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver. Performed also at the San Francisco Jazz Festival (1996). Her 1997 tribute album Dear Ella won her the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album, and the 1998 album Live at Yoshi's was also worth a Grammy nomination. Performed again at the Monterey Jazz Festival (1998). She has also explored on This Is New (2002) the songs of Kurt Weill, and, on her next album J'ai Deux Amours (2005), the French Classics.

Herbie Hancock and Dee Dee Bridgewater giving a masterclass to musicians in Rabat, Morocco

Her album Red Earth, released in 2007, features Africa-inspired themes and contributions by numerous musicians from Mali. Performed at the San Francisco Jazz Festival (2007). On December 8, 2007 she performed with the Terence Blanchard Quintet at the prestigious John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C..[6] She tours frequently, including overseas gigs around the world. October 16, 2009 found her opening the Shanghai JZ Jazz Festival[7], in which she sang tunes associated with Ella Fitzgerald, along with Ellington compositions and other jazz standards.

As a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, Bridgewater continues to appeal for international solidarity to finance global grassroots projects in the fight against world hunger. Awarded Honorary Doctorates from University of Michigan[8] and Berklee College of Music[9], Bridgewater makes a concerted effort to mentor and nurture young artists.

In April 2017, Bridgewater was the recipient of an NEA Jazz Masters Award[10] with honors bestowed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and in 2018 was awarded the 2018 Maria Fisher Founder's Award by the Thelonious Monk/Hancock Institute of Jazz.[11] She is currently on tour worldwide in support of her latest CD, “Memphis...Yes, I'm Ready”.


Dee Dee had appeared in such films as the 1979 film The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh and the 1984 film The Brother from Another Planet. She has made a guest appearance in the hit sitcom Benson and the hit sci-fi fantasy TV series Highlander: The Series.

Personal lifeEdit

Bridgewater is the mother to three children, Tulani Bridgewater (from her marriage to Cecil Bridgewater), China Moses (from her marriage to theater, film and television director Gilbert Moses) and Gabriel Durand (from her last marriage to French concert promoter Jean-Marie Durand). Her eldest daughter, Tulani Bridgewater, attended the Mirman School for Gifted Children in Los Angeles, CA. She went on to graduate from the Ecole Active Bilingue in Paris, France at age 16, going on to graduate from Vassar College. She serves as Bridgewater's manager under her firm Bridgewater Artists Management and runs Bridgewater's production company and record label (DDB Productions, Inc. And DDB Records). Daughter China Moses is an accomplished singer, songwriter, producer, radio host and MTV VJ (France). Her critically acclaimed albums have earned her an international reputation as heir to Bridgewater's legacy. Moses tours worldwide, occasionally sharing the bill with Bridgewater.

Awards and honorsEdit

Grammy AwardsEdit

Year Category Title Genre Label Result
1989 Best Jazz Vocal Performance Live in Paris Jazz MCA Nominee
1994 Best Jazz Vocal Performance Keeping Tradition Jazz Polygram Nominee
1996 Best Jazz Vocal Performance Love and Peace

A Tribute to Horace Silver

Jazz Verve Nominee
1998 Best Jazz Vocal Performance Dear Ella Jazz Verve Winner
1998 Best Instrumental Arrangement

Accompanying Vocal(s)

"Cotton Tail" from Dear Ella Jazz Verve Winner
2001 Best Jazz Vocal Album Live at Yoshi's Jazz Verve Nominee
2005 Best Jazz Vocal Album J'ai Deux Amours Jazz DDB Records


2007 Best Jazz Vocal Album Red Earth

A Malian Journey

Jazz DDB Records Nominee
2010 Best Jazz Vocal Album Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959)

To Billie with Love from Dee Dee Bridgewater

Jazz EmArcy Winner


Year Title Genre Label Billboard[16] JazzWeek[17]
1974 Afro Blue Jazz Trio
1976 Dee Dee Bridgewater Disco Atlantic
1977 Just Family Disco Elektra 170
1979 Bad for Me Disco Elektra 182
1980 Dee Dee Bridgewater Disco Elektra
1987 Live in Paris Jazz EmArcy
1989 Victim of Love Disco Polydor
1992 In Montreux Jazz Polydor
1993 Keeping Tradition Jazz Verve
1995 Love and Peace:

A Tribute to Horace Silver

Jazz Verve 13
1997 Dear Ella Jazz Verve 5
2000 Live at Yoshi's Jazz Verve 20
2002 This Is New Jazz Verve 7
2005 J'ai Deux Amours Jazz DDB Records 16 14
2007 Red Earth: A Malian Journey Jazz DDB Records 23 1
2010 Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959):

To Billie with Love from Dee Dee Bridgewater

Jazz EmArcy 19
2011 Midnight Sun (Compilation) Jazz EmArcy 20
2015 Dee Dee's Feathers Jazz Sony Masterworks


2017 Memphis... Yes, I'm Ready[18] Soul, R&B Sony Masterworks



As guest


  1. ^ "JazzSet Signs Off". Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  2. ^ "FAO Ambassabors Programme". Retrieved 2019-04-10.
  3. ^ Thomas, Jo (September 22, 1998). "A Singer Is Returning to a Stage Where It All Began". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  4. ^ Larkin, Colin. The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Guinness, page 547, (1995) – ISBN 1-56159-176-9
  5. ^ "The Wiz Broadway @ Majestic Theatre - Tickets and Discounts". Playbill. Retrieved 2019-04-10.
  6. ^ "Kennedy Center: The Movie Music of Spike Lee and Terence Blanchard". Archived from the original on August 18, 2007. Retrieved November 3, 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  7. ^ "Review 2009 | Shanghai JZ Festival Official Website". Retrieved 2019-04-10.
  8. ^ News, UM-Flint (2012-10-23). "International Jazz Performer to Receive Honorary Degree at UM-Flint Commencement". UM-Flint NOW. Retrieved 2019-04-10.
  9. ^ "Julio Iglesias, Doug Morris, Harvey Mason, Dee Dee Bridgewater to Receive Honorary Degrees | Berklee College of Music". Retrieved 2019-04-10.
  10. ^ "Dee Dee Bridgewater". NEA. 2016-06-07. Retrieved 2019-04-10.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical", Wikipedia, 2019-04-07, retrieved 2019-04-10
  13. ^ "2014 Winners | Audience Development Committee, Inc". Retrieved 2019-04-10.
  14. ^ "Dee Dee Bridgewater Earns Prestigious ASCAP Honor". 2017-10-06. Retrieved 2019-04-10.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Dee Dee Bridgewater". Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  17. ^ "JazzWeek", Wikipedia, 2017-07-27, retrieved 2019-04-11
  18. ^ Russonello, Giovanni (2017-11-23). "Dee Dee Bridgewater Throws Herself a Memphis Soul Party". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-10.

External linksEdit