Abbey Lincoln

Mar 19, 2017

Throughout the month of March, KUVO celebrates Women’s History Month by recognizing the contributions of notable women from the past who have impacted music. We will also be spotlighting women of the present who are actively creating memorable music today.

As with her hero Billie Holiday, Abbey Lincoln always meant the lyrics she sang. A dramatic performer whose interpretations were full of truth and insight, Lincoln actually began her career as a fairly lightweight supper-club singer. She went through several name changes (including Anna Marie, Gaby Lee, and Gaby Woolridge) before settling on Abbey Lincoln. She recorded with Benny Carter in 1956 and performed a number in the 1957 Hollywood film The Girl Can't Help It. Lincoln's first of three albums for Riverside (1957-1959) had Max Roach on drums and he was a major influence on her; she began to be choosy about the songs she sang and to give words the proper emotional intensity. Lincoln held her own on her early dates with such sidemen as Kenny Dorham, Sonny Rollins, Wynton Kelly, Curtis Fuller, and Benny Golson. She was quite memorable on Roach's Freedom Now Suite, showing some very uninhibited emotions. Lincoln's Candid date Straight Ahead (1961) had among its players Roach, Booker Little, Eric Dolphy, and Coleman Hawkins, and she made some important appearances on Roach's Impulse! Album Percussion Bitter Suite. More by Scott Yanow

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Abbey Lincoln