Dinah Washington dubbed herself "Queen of The Blues", but her sound and her style adapted easily to jazz, pop, and R&B. Through her short lifetime, she recorded a legacy that has influenced artists as varied as Aretha Franklin, Bette Midler, and Amy Winehouse.
Born in Alabama and raised in Chicago's Southside, Washington found her voice in gospel choirs. She toured with a gospel group before turning her attention to jazz and blues. Noted for her clean, expressive voice, she worked with Lionel Hampton's band in the mid-1940s, using members of that band to record her debut LP. The album features her first hit and one of her enduring classics, "Evil Gal Blues" which made Billboard's Harlem Hit Parade in 1944. Washington had success with hits like "What A Difference A Day Makes" and the country crossover gem "Cold, Cold Heart" by Hank Williams. Her interpretations of torch songs had an authenticity rooted in her own life (Washington was married seven times.)
Among her awards and recognition, Washington earned a 1959 Grammy Award for "What A Difference A Day Makes." That song and two others have been inducted to the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 1993, thirty years after her death at 39, she was inducted as an Early Influencer into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That same year, the U.S. Post Office issued a commemorative stamp to honor her.