You'll Be Missed, Ms. Lincoln
August 14, 2010 8:19 PM Subscribe
posted by jeanmari (21 comments total)
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Not just a singer,
but a songwriter
. Not just an actress
, but an activist
. Abbey Lincoln
helped to push the expectations that the jazz loving public had of jazz vocalists beyond the stereotype of sexy chanteuse delivering someone else's lyrics. From sexy and sultry (as in this clip from "The Girl Can't Help It"
) to quirky and passionate
to elegant and expressive
, Ms. Lincoln was a true original in every sense of the word.
Born in the 1930's in Chicago and raised in Michigan, she began her career singing in dinner clubs
, trying to please her manager by covering romantic ballads and wearing traditionally slinky outfits. Then she met the jazz drummer Max Roach
and began to learn how to be herself. When I discovered the world of the artist? It saved my life. Because I could strive to be individual and as best as I could be. I didn't HAVE to have money, I didn't HAVE to have anything except my life. And I went for that! And I'm glad I did.
She rejected what society said she was supposed to look like and started wearing her hair in a natural style in the late 1950's (That was a crime...a black woman wasn't supposed to show that she had the hair that she had. So I just glorified my existence and said, This is me, this is my beautiful self.
) She sang songs that pleased her...important, meaningful songs
, evocative songs that she had written
, and covers from her idol, Billie Holliday
. She once explained that she rejected performing songs which demeaned her. I know that a song is a prayer — it's something that I speak over and over, and it's with music. And it's amplified, and it goes into peoples' ears. And it'll manifest in my life, one way or another. So ... I am particular about the messages that come from me.
She was genuine, she was unconventional, she was fearless. She was Abbey Lincoln.
When everything is finished in a world, the people go to look for what the artists leave. It's the only thing that we have really in this world -- is an ability to express ourselves and say, "I was here."
-- Abbey Lincoln
Abbey Lincoln passed away at her home in New York today, August 14, 2010 at the age of 80. Thank you, Abbey, for having been here.