This Day in Black History: Dec. 14, 1963

UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01:  Photo of Dinah WASHINGTON; Posed studio portrait of Dinah Washington  (Photo by Gilles Petard/Redferns)

This Day in Black History: Dec. 14, 1963

Dinah Washington, known as the "The Queen of the Blues," dies from an accidental drug overdose at the age of 39.

Published December 14, 2013

Known as the "Queen of the Blues," Dinah Washington's career in the music world was cut short after she died from an accidental drug overdose on Dec. 14, 1963. Born Ruth Jones in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Aug. 29, 1924, she moved with her family at the age of three or four years old to Chicago. 

In the Windy City she fell in love with music in church, but also sung in secular circles. Washington made a name for herself performing in a big band led by Lionel Hampton. She rose to fame, recording with jazz greats including Clifford Brown, Clark Terry, Max Roach, Lockjaw Davis, Cannonball Adderley and Quincy Jones.

During her career, Washington recorded more than two dozen albums. The songbird's version of "What a Difference a Day Makes" earned her a Best Rhythm & Blues Performance Grammy in 1959. Washington's legacy was honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.  

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 (Photo: Gilles Petard/Redferns)

Written by Natelege Whaley


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