Posted by: Khepera | Thursday, 16 September 2010

Abbey Lincoln: Actress, Activist, Diva, Vocalist & Instrumentalist Extraordinaire – Joins the Ancestors at 80


About a month ago, Abbey Lincoln joined the ancestors… Some who know me wondered why I had not written something about her. I had to wait, to digest, find some peace with it, first. The coolness of her style, with her signature hat, soothed me…and memories coalesced.

Abbey Lincoln in performance

Abbey was special to me, and I finally got to meet her privately, in 1998 at the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta. I have cherished her music, and her persona, since I was introduced by my jazz aficionado father. Despite the challenges of her youth, and marriage, she always possessed a grace, a certain serenity for me.

In the early 90’s, while I was living outside of DC, I was fortunate to meet and form a lasting friendship with Oscar Brown, Jr. It was through Oscar that I learned a lot more about her personal life since he was a contemporary of hers, and her husband Max Roach. Rising through the jazz ranks in his hometown of Chicago, Oscar developed a special affection for Abbey, and it was through the eyes of his heart that my admiration and too-distant-to-reach attractions blossomed into an abiding love.

A woman of strength, and disarming softness, her smile sparkled mischief before her voice transformed place to sanctuary. When we honor those – ours – we must remember the historical context of their lives. To be truly great, one must also endure, and Abbey’s life is a testament to that truth. But nothing conveys that like her music.

As a writer and singer, her choices were always craft-driven, opting for lush complexity, in tone and metaphor, her own voice instead of the familiar. When I used to do jazz radio, Abbey’s story about John Coltrane’s Africa was one I chose to share often. When she decided to put lyrics to Coltrane’s tune, she approached him once, directly, asking his permission, which he granted. Again character… My favorite track by Abbey, in memory, with love and…..

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Famed jazz songstress Abbey Lincoln dies at home at age 80

Abbey Lincoln, the exquisitely talented singer whose metaphor-laden songs, seductive voice and outsized personality made her an iconic figure in jazz, died Saturday. She was 80.

Lincoln passed away in Manhattan, her brother David Wooldridge told The New York Times.

In a career that spanned six decades, Lincoln recorded more than 20 albums, acted in several films and TV shows and became a pioneering voice in the civil rights movement.

Lincoln, who was strongly influenced by famed jazz singer Billie Holiday, performed until shortly before her death.

The Chicago-born singer launched her career in 1956 with the album “Abbey Lincoln’s Affair – A Story of a Girl in Love.”

Her passionate delivery and complex songs quickly established her as one of jazz’s most impressive talents.

For the rest of the article

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