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Not just jazz in her soul

art-and-culture Updated: Feb 21, 2009 00:25 IST
Ruchira Hoon
Ruchira Hoon
Hindustan Times
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Dee Dee Bridgewater nearly became a nun instead of the jazz singer she is today. Raised in a family which was surrounded in music as well as a strong belief in Catholicism, Dee Dee’s choices were simple — either she carried on the tradition of melody or she turned to religion. In her own way, she’s managed both.

Having performed in New Delhi and Mumbai, Dee Dee Bridgewater can hardly be called a diva. Her humble approach to people reflects strongly in her music and her honey-alto voice is proof of the fact that she loves what she does.

“I’ve had the opportunity to perform with various jazz singers since I was very young,” she says. “And while I haven’t officially studied music, I’ve always been surrounded by song. My maternal grandmother was an organ player and my mother introduced me to Ella Fitzgerald, who inspired me throughout my career.” In fact, Dee Dee received two Grammy awards for her tribute album on Ella titled Dear Ella in 1998 and a Tony award for her role as Glinda the Good Witch in The Wiz in 1974.

At 58, Dee Dee has travelled across the world but this is her first visit to India. Why did she wait so long? “I’ve always loved Indian art, music and even the food. I missed the opportunity to come to India twice since I was touring. But this time, I just had to come.”

For her concert, Dee Dee wore a churidar and shawl over a dress she bought in Las Vegas.“It’s my way of honouring the country and its people,” she says.

Married three times, she’s a very fit grandmother. Settled in France with her husband Jean-Marie Durand, a French concert promoter, this energetic jazz singer feels, “I’ve always let my inner voice tell me what to do and have followed my instinct.”

With music passing down from generations, it’s no surprise that Dee Dee is very keen to come back to India soon. “Having performed with Ustad Zakir Hussain and Shankar Mahadevan, I want to really cut an album and work with Indian musicians as there is so much to learn from them,” says this jazz singer. “I feel a spiritual connection with the country and trust me I’ll be back sooner than what you think.”