Ernestine Anderson

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Ernestine Anderson

Performing in 2008
Background information
Birth nameErnestine Anderson
Born(1928-11-11) November 11, 1928 (age 84)
OriginHouston, Texas, USA
GenresBlues
Jazz
OccupationsSinger
InstrumentsVocals
LabelsQwest Records
Reprise Records
Concord Records
Mercury Records
Associated actsJohnny Otis
Lionel Hampton
Websitewww.ErnestineAnderson.com
 
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Ernestine Anderson

Performing in 2008
Background information
Birth nameErnestine Anderson
Born(1928-11-11) November 11, 1928 (age 84)
OriginHouston, Texas, USA
GenresBlues
Jazz
OccupationsSinger
InstrumentsVocals
LabelsQwest Records
Reprise Records
Concord Records
Mercury Records
Associated actsJohnny Otis
Lionel Hampton
Websitewww.ErnestineAnderson.com

Ernestine Anderson (born November 11, 1928) is an American jazz and blues singer. In a career spanning more than five decades, she has recorded over 30 albums. She was nominated four times for a Grammy Award. She has sung at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center,[1] the Monterey Jazz Festival (six times over a 33-year span), as well as at jazz festivals all over the world. In the early 1990s she joined Qwest Records, the label of fellow Garfield High School grad Quincy Jones.

Contents

Biography

Anderson was born in Houston, Texas,[2] the daughter of a construction worker. At age three, she could sing along with the raw tunes of the legendary Bessie Smith; she soon moved on to the more refined environs of her local church, singing solos in its gospel choir.

Anderson tells of her early life in the book, The Jazz Scene (1998):

"My parents used to play blues records all the time," Ernestine Anderson told me. "John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, all the blues greats. In Houston, where I grew up, you turned on the radio and what you got was country and western and gospel. I don't even remember what my first experience with music was. I sort of grew into it. My father sang in a gospel quartet and I used to follow him around, and both my grandparents sang in the Baptist church choir. And they had big bands coming through Houston like Jimmie Lunceford, Billy Eckstine, Erskine Hawkins, and Count Basie." Ernestine's godmother entered her in a local talent contest when she was twelve years old. "I only knew two songs," she admitted, "'On the Sunny Side of the Street' and 'So Long'. The piano player asked me what key did I do these songs in and I just said 'C' for some reason and it was the wrong key. In order to save face I sang around the melody, improvised among the melody, and when I finished one of the musicians told me I was a jazz singer."[3]

Her family moved to Seattle, Washington in 1944,[2] when she was sixteen. Anderson graduated from Garfield High School. When she was eighteen, she left Seattle, to tour for a year with the Johnny Otis band. In 1952, she went on tour with Lionel Hampton's orchestra. After a year with the legendary band, she settled in New York, determined to make her way as a singer. Her appearance on Gigi Gryce's 1955 album Nica's Tempo (Savoy)[4] led to a partnership with trumpeter Rolf Ericson for a three-month Scandinavian tour. Ernestine's first album in the United States was made after her debut album, recorded in Sweden and released here by Mercury Records under the title Hot Cargo (1958), which created a huge sensation. In 1959 Anderson won the Down Beat "New Star" Award and recorded for Mercury to more acclaim, before dividing her time from the mid-60's between America and Europe.

"I don't think jazz ever died. It suffered a setback during the sixties. I had to move to London in order to work because a jazz person couldn't work in the United States when rock 'n' roll became the music. I didn't think it would last this long, and I don't think the rock 'n' roll people thought it would last this long, but it had."[5]

Her re-emergence in the mid-1970s (at which time Ray Brown was her manager) came as a result of a sensational appearance at the 1976 Concord Jazz Festival, a string of albums for Concord Records followed. Anderson has continued her career revival into the 1990s, working with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, among others.[6]

In 2008, her home—which had been in her family for decades—was scheduled for foreclosure for debts of $48,000. The home was saved by donations by friends such as Quincy Jones and Diane Schuur.[2][7]

Anderson is currently represented by Addeo Music International (AMI).

Selected discography

Grammy history

Ernestine Anderson Grammy History
YearCategoryGenreTitleLabelResult
1996Best Jazz Vocal PerformanceJazzBlues, Dues & Love NewsQwestNominated
1993Best Jazz Vocal PerformanceJazzNow and ThenConcordNominated
1983Best Jazz Vocal Performance - FemaleJazzBig CityConcordNominated
1981Best Jazz Vocal Performance - FemaleJazzNever Make Your Move Too SoonConcordNominated

Recognitions

Ernestine Anderson was featured in an article in Time magazine, August 4, 1958: "the voice belongs to Negro Singer Ernestine Anderson, at 29 perhaps the best-kept jazz secret in the land" after her first album release. She is inevitably compared to Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday. Ernestine invariably rejects the comparisons. "I wish," she says, "they would let me be just me."[9]

Anderson was one of 75 women chosen for the book, I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America (1999), by Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Brian Lanker. Within this book Ernestine Anderson joins such company as Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Oprah Winfrey, Lena Horne, and Sarah Vaughan.[10]

She won the Golden Umbrella award at the Bumbershoot Seattle arts festival in 2002.[11] The award honors artists from the Northwestern United States "who have significantly contributed to the cultural landscape of our region."

Anderson was chosen by the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Recording Academy (an organization best known for the Grammy Awards) to receive its 2004 IMPACT Award. The IMPACT Award honors Northwest music professionals whose creative talents and accomplishments have crossed all musical boundaries and who have been recognized as an asset to the music community.[12]

In 2012, the Low Income Housing Institute named a housing project the "Ernestine Anderson Place" in her honor, noting Anderson's long residence in Seattle's Central District where the units are located.[13]

References

  1. ^ Ernestine Anderson and the Diva Jazz Band
  2. ^ a b c Gillian G. Gaar, "Ernestine Anderson", Seattle Metropolitan, December 2008, p. 62.
  3. ^ Stokes, W. Royal. The Jazz Scene: An Informal History from New Orleans to 1990 (1998), p. 159 - ISBN 0-19-508270-2
  4. ^ Horace, Silver. Let's Get to the Nitty Gritty: The Autobiography of Horace Silver, University of California Press (2006), p. 211 - ISBN 0-520-24374-9
  5. ^ Lanker, Brian. I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America (1989), p. 48
  6. ^ Fairweather, Digby. The Rough Guide to Jazz, St. Martin's Press (2004), p. 1941 - ISBN 0-312-27870-5
  7. ^ The Famous and Foreclosured Trutv.com, Retrieved December 22, 2008
  8. ^ Ernestine Anderson Grammy Database
  9. ^ Time magazine, August 4, 1958, Emotional Brass
  10. ^ Lanker, Brian. I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America, Stewart, Tabori and Chang, (1989), page 48 - ISBN 1-55670-923-4
  11. ^ International Jazz Collections Special Jazz Festival
  12. ^ 2004 IMPACT Awards, City of Seattle official site
  13. ^ Ernestine Anderson Place Art Fence & Sign Request for Proposals, Low Income Housing Institute, February 27, 2012, http://www.lihi.org/Ernesting%20Anderson%20Art%20RFP.pdf, retrieved 2012-04-01

External links