Dee Dee Bridgewater is the first American to be inducted to the Haut Conseil de la Francophonie. She has received the Award of Arts and Letters in France. She also won the 1975 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance in The Wiz.
Dee Dee Bridgewater’s lives, personal and professional, have taken a lot of unexpected turns since she first emerged as a top jazz diva in the early 1970s. Her quest to create a life satisfying on both levels has included stops on both coasts of the U.S., a return to her childhood hometown in Flint, Michigan, and finally a flight across the ocean to Paris, where she has lived for the last several years. Along the way, Bridgewater has established herself as one of the best and most versatile vocalists of her generation, as well as a skilled actress. Her career entered as new phase in the 1990s, as she took over creative and financial control of her own work. The result has been a couple of Grammy Award nominations and a degree of international recognition that had eluded her in the past.
Bridgewater was born Denise Garrett on May 27, 1950, in Memphis, Tennessee. Her father, Matthew Garrett, was a prominent trumpet player in the Memphis jazz scene, and had worked as a sideman with the likes of Nat (King) Cole. When Dee Dee—Denise’s nickname since infancy—was three years old, the family moved to Flint, Michigan, where Matthew opted for the security of a teaching job. The Bridgewaters remained in Flint for the rest of Dee Dee’s childhood.
She started out singing in school talent shows and with local jazz bands. During her first years in college she began singing with big bands, which lead to her work with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Band. At this time,she met and married trumpeter/composer Cecil Bridgewater. After touring the US, Europe, USSR and Japan, the couple had a child and divorced. Dee Dee then garnered the role of Glinda in the Broadway production of "The Wiz", earning a Tony Award. She then married director Gilbert Moses and moved to Los Angeles, where she did some acting and released several hit albums. She and Gilbert had a child. The couple moved to Virgina Beach, Virginia, where she starred in the soap "A Different World." Upon the couple's return to Los Angeles, Dee Dee got a leading role in the LA production of "Sophisticated Ladies" (starring Gregory Hines, Hinton Battle and others). Dee Dee remained with the company on the world tour. When Dee Dee separated from her second husband, she relocated to Paris, France, and rekindled her career as a jazz artist. Since her move to Europe, she has been internationally recognized as a creative force in the jazz world, honored with international awards and recently received two Grammy awards for her tribute album "Dear Ella." Dee Dee currently lives in France with her husband and has three children.
Dee Dee Bridgewater - Song for my Father (Live)
Excellent presentation from the Diva Dee Dee Bridgewater at the 1996 edition of the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazzfest. This performance was not included in the CD recording.