In 2000 Dee Dee Bridgewater returned with Live at Yoshi’s, an album recorded at a jazz club in Oakland, California. The album, wrote the Seattle Times, “showcases all her strengths — the thrust of soul music, the chops of swashbuckling jazz improvisation and the inviting personality of an actress.” Live at Yoshi’s displayed Bridgewater’s virtuoso talent for “scat” singing — making instrumental sounds with the voice — more effectively than did her studio albums generally. That year Bridgewater moved back to the United States to be closer to her aging parents, bringing her French husband with her and settling in suburban Las Vegas, Nevada. She seemed to have brought together the many strands of her musical life and hit the peak of her career. Future projects under consideration for Bridgewater included a stage show based on the music of the satirical German-born song composer Kurt Weill.
Born Denise Garrett on May 27, 1950, in Memphis, TN; nicknamed Dee Dee from an early age; father a teacher and jazz trumpeter; married Cecil Bridgewater, a musician, 1969 or 1970 (divorced); married Gilbert Moses, a theatrical director (divorced); married Jean-Marie Durand, a bartender; children: Tulani Bridgewater, China Moses, Gabriel Durand.
Education: Attended Michigan State University and the University of Illinois.
Jazz vocalist. Performed at Village Vanguard with Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, early 1970s; performed in Broadway musical The Wiz, early 1970s; worked toward pop career, late 1970s; toured with international company of jazz musical Sophisticated Ladies; moved to Paris, France, 1986; released debut solo album, Live in Paris, 1987; signed to Verve label, 1990; moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, 2000.
One of the many serious American jazz musicians who have found an environment hospitable for their talents in Europe, Dee Dee Bridgewater's vocals, steeped in the traditions of jazz, have extended those traditions to form her own personal style. Bridgewater has sung jazz, performed on Broadway, and made forays into the pop world. During a 15-year stint in Paris, she combined all the elements of her long musical education into a new level of jazz mastery and gained wide recognition for the first time.
Bridgewater was born Denise Garrett on May 27, 1950, in Memphis, Tennessee; Dee Dee was her nickname from an early age. Her father was known as a jazz trumpeter around Memphis, but when Dee Dee was three the family moved to Flint, Michigan, so that her father could take a teaching job there. As a teenager in Michigan in the early 1960s Bridgewater's peer group was interested in the growing Motown sound, and she formed a vocal trio, the Iridescents, in hopes of getting a recording contract.