The Memphis Project
Dee Dee Bridgewater has gone back to her beginning…Memphis, Tennessee.
Born in the city known for its pivotal part in American culture, music and civil rights struggle, Bridgewater was part of an American legacy. After moving to Flint, Michigan, Bridgewater’s childhood nights were spent tuning into Memphis’ WDIA, the first radio station in the nation featuring all-black programming. It was also the station where her father spun vinyl as the on-air disc jockey, “Matt the Platter Cat.”
This album is not only a return to Bridgewater’s roots, but it offers ground-breaking reimagining of American Blues and R&B classics with backing by the Stax Academy Choir, Kirk Whalum, and recorded at Willie Mitchell’s world-renowned Royal Studios. Scheduled for a 2017 release on Bridgewater’s own imprint, DDB Records, the album is expected to the distributed by OKeh Records/Sony Masterworks. Co-Produced by Bridgewater and close friend Kirk Whalum, a Memphis native, the as yet untitled release features such crowdpleasers as “Why? (Am I Treated So Bad)” by the Staples Singers, “I’m Going Down Slow” and “Don’t Be Cruel”, among others.
Over the course of a multifaceted career spanning four decades, Grammy and Tony Award-winning jazz giant Dee Dee Bridgewater has ascended to the upper echelon of vocalists, putting her unique spin on standards, as well as taking intrepid leaps of faith in re-envisioning jazz classics. Ever the fearless voyager, explorer, pioneer and keeper of tradition, the three-time Grammy-winner recently won the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album for Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie With Love From Dee Dee.
Bridgewater’s career has always bridged musical genres. She earned her first professional experience as a member of the legendary Thad Jones/Mel Louis Big Band, and throughout the 70s she performed with such jazz notables as Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon and Dizzy Gillespie. After a foray into the pop world during the 1980s, she relocated to Paris and began to turn her attention back to jazz. Signing with the Universal Music Group as a producer (Bridgewater produces all of her CDs), Bridgewater released a series of critically-acclaimed titles beginning with Keeping Tradition in 1993. All but one, including her wildly successful double Grammy Award-winning tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, Dear Ella - have received Grammy nominations.
Bridgewater also pursued a parallel career in musical theater, winning a Tony Award for her role as “Glinda” in The Wiz in 1975. Having recently completed a run as the lead role of Billie Holiday in the off-Broadway production of Lady Day, her other theatrical credits include Sophisticated Ladies, Black Ballad, Carmen, Cabaret and the Off-Broadway and West End Productions of Lady Day, for which Bridgewater received the British Laurence Olivier Nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.
As a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Bridgewater continues to appeal for international solidarity to finance global grassroots projects in the fight against world hunger. She spent the last year on an extensive global tour in support of “Dee Dee’s Feathers” and was recently honored with a stage dedication in her name at the new People’s Health New Orleans Jazz Market. In June of 2016, it was announced that Bridgewater is the recipient of an NEA Jazz Masters Fellows Award with honors to be bestowed at the Kennedy Center in April 2017. She is currently in the studio at work on her next CD to be released in 2017.