Vocalist Ernestine Anderson dies

Ernestine Anderson in 1966

American jazz and blues vocalist Ernestine Anderson has died aged 87 after a career that spanned six decades and received four GRAMMY nominations.

American jazz and blues vocalist Ernestine Anderson has died aged 87. Anderson enjoyed a long career through six decades during which she received four GRAMMY nominations. Quincy Jones described her voice as the sound of “honey at dusk.”

She was born in Houston, Texas in 1928. Her early influences were the records of Bessie Smith, John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters and she began performing through gospel music in church. After her family moved up to Seattle, Washington, she toured with Johnny Otis and worked with band leader Lionel Hampton. She embarked on a tour of Scandinavia and recorded her debut album in Sweden.

In 1959 Anderson moved to Los Angeles where she recorded six albums for Mercury Records including her highly acclaimed 'Moanin'. After setbacks in the 1960s she commented, “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.” She would work between Europe and the USA before taking other employment outside of music. 

In 1976 she made a triumphant appearance at Concord Jazz Festival which brought her spectacularly back to music, recording almost 20 albums for the Concord record label. Two of her GRAMMY nominations came from her work with old friend Quincy Jones when she signed with him in 1993. She continued to make albums with other labels including High Note who released her last album ‘A Song For You’ in 2009. Throughout this period she worked at the very highest level of jazz music including regular appearances at the World’s most prestigious jazz festivals and music venues.

Ernestine Anderson received a Golden Umbrella Award from Seattle’s Bumbershoot Arts Festival in 2002, an award later adopted by the City’s Mayor. Ten years later Seattle named Ernestine Anderson Place in her honor.

She reportedly died peacefully in Shoreline, Washington on March 10th. She had been resident in a retirement home there since 2011.

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