Noted vocalist and stage performer Dee Dee Bridgewater has hosted NPR's JazzSet since October 2001. Each week Bridgewater takes listeners on a one-hour trip to concert halls, clubs, and festivals around the country to experience the vitality of today's best jazz performances. JazzSet is produced by WBGO 88.3 FM/Newark, New Jersey.
Born in Memphis and raised in Flint, Michigan, Bridgewater moved to New York early in her career and found fast success. Her performance as Glinda the Good witch in The Wiz on Broadway, Bridgewater won a 1975 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical. While in New York, she sang jazz every Monday night with the popular Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra downtown at the Village Vanguard. Her LP's from that era include Dee Dee Bridgewater, Just Family and Bad for Me, about which a consumer reviewer wrote 30 years later, "This upbeat disco album encapsulates all that was right about the Disco Era."
In the 1980s, Bridgewater settled in Paris. Her performance in Sophisticated Ladies and Lady Day, a one-woman portrayal of Billie Holiday in French, earned her a Sir Laurence Olivier Award nomination.
Bridgewater's self-produced CD, Love and Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver, which was released in 1995, brought her voice back to the United States. Her next album, Dear Ella, dedicated to Ella Fitzgerald, earned her two Grammy Awards in 1998. Subsequently, Bridgewater produced This Is New with music of Kurt Weill and J'ai Deux Amours/Two Loves Have I.
Blues and griot songs came together on her Grammy-nominated 2007 release, Red Earth - A Malian Journey. This album features Bridgewater with her trio; guest vocalists; and a balaphon, kora, flute, percussion and vocal ensemble from West Africa.
Her 2010 release, Eleanora Fagan 1915-1959: To Billie with Love from Dee Dee Bridgewater is more personal. "This album is my way of paying my respect to a vocalist who made it possible for singers like me to carve out a career for ourselves," says Bridgewater. With music from the Billie Holiday songbook, Bridgewater's style ranges from an upbeat, rhythm-strong "Lady Sings the Blues" to the stark ballad of an American lynching, "Strange Fruit."