Dinah Washington, as she herself would readily acknowledge, was called Queen of the Blues, During a show at the London Palladium, she told an audience that purportedly included Queen Elizabeth, “There is but one heaven, one hell, one queen, and your Elizabeth is an imposter.”
Washington was born Ruth Lee Jones in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 1924, but grew up in Chicago’s Southside. Washington was raised by a devoutly religious mother who sang in church and taught piano in the neighborhood, Washington learned to play piano at an early age and proved to be a powerful gospel singer.
She and her mother became a popular attraction at local churches, earning little money but considerable respect.
Photography: Kevin Mazur, WireImage