Artist Q&A: Dee Dee Bridgewater
Posted Jan 05, 2018
Grammy® and Tony®-award-winning vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater brings her incredible jazz and blues music for two intimate performances this February. This 2017National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master took a moment to tell us more about herself and her performance from her new home in New Orleans.
Q. Your father was a jazz trumpeter, what inspired you to get involved in jazz and blues as a singer?
A. There was always dad’s music playing in my house. My father listened to musicians and different kinds of music from trumpets to piano trios. My mother listened to a lot of obscure singers, not the most well known ones. So, I thought everybody listened to jazz. And at the age of 7, I announced to my parents I was going to be an internationally known famous singer and I was going to buy them a house and a car, and I did buy my mom a car and a house.
Q. Not only are you a Grammy winner for your music, you are also a Tony winner for your role as Glinda in The Wiz (1975). What made you want to get involved in theater?
A. I grew up with the Ziegfeld Follies. I dreamed of coming down those big staircases with gorgeous men and being picked up and carried through the air as I sang a song. Low and behold, that’s what happened in The Wiz. I came down some stairs flanked by gorgeous dancers and they carried me across the stage singing “If You Believe.” Theater is an art form that requires a lot of discipline and it is a different kind of discipline than required in music, in jazz music in particular. I’ve been able to take away the sense of space and how to project an emotion and bring that in to my performances as an artist. I was able to bring my improvisational skills into play as an actress, so I’ve been able to use both mediums to feed the other
which has been fantastic.
Q. You’ve been recording and performing for 47 years now. What has been the biggest industry change since you started?
A. We went from LPs to cassettes to CDs to digital streaming and downloading. The biggest change – its constant change.
Q. In 2017 you were honored as a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master. How did it feel to be honored in that way?
A. Whenever the NEA Jazz Master ceremonies happened I thought wow look at those people. I thought I was outside of that. I did not know my music was being looked at and regarded in that way. I have just done what I like to do with the best of my ability and have taken that around the world. To get this huge acknowledgement and be a recipient of this award was quite extraordinary.
Finish this sentence:
I can’t travel without my… dog (Daisy, a maltese shih tzu mix). She is my joy and makes it so I am never alone.
My favorite thing to do when I visit a new city is…go to bed. Usually when I get there it means I’ve been traveling all day.
When I’m not recording or performing I love to…be a homebody because I’m never home. I’ve only been in New Orleans for a year and a half so I love to discover new places, clubs, restaurants, galleries and museums.
I am excited to visit Wisconsin because… I don’t come to Wisconsin that often. I’ve never been to Appleton so I’m excited to find out what’s going on.