Her music was sometimes compared to that of Billie Holiday. She had a very striking presence that may have served her well most times. And still at others, it may have worked against her. It was her transition from budding screen goddess to jazz chanteuse where the contrast was most in evidence. It is befitting that no less than 10 of her albums re-charted on the iTunes® Jazz chart with the sad announcement of her death. Though she did memorable film work in limited roles, like her Golden Globe®-nominated performance in For the Love of Ivy starring Sidney Poitier, she will be probably be best remembered for her music.
Joining the Verve Music Group at the dawn of the ‘90s, she experienced a rebirth in commercial and critical success. ‘You Gotta Pay the Band’, from 1991, is probably her most successful work. Filmed for release as a pay-per-view concert special and an album, it captured Ms. Lincoln in an intimate jazz room environment with a 4-piece ensemble that included legendary saxophonist, Stan Getz.
Two albums stood out in particular from her near couple of dozen or so releases in her discography. One was 1960’s ‘We Insist!’, featuring drummer Max Roach, recorded as a suite for the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation. ‘We Insist!’ was developed by Max Roach with songwriter Oscar Brown, Jr. in honor of the Civil Rights Movement for a 1963 performance. And personal favorite, ‘Wholly Earth’ from 1998, also ranks as one of her finest works. By the time of its release, ‘Wholly Earth’ also showcased Abbey’s strength as a songwriter.
From model to screen goddess to jazz singer, Abbey Lincoln was a rare breed. Days away from her 80th birthday (Abbey was born 6 August 1930 in Chicago), she passed away on 14 August 2010. The heavens now have a new songbird to sing.
About the Writer
K. Bonin has worked in the music industry for the last three decades. He describes himself as "a child of Motown and the classic rock era." Having spent the balance of his career at Arista Records, his experience and passion gives him a unique perspective on music and the music industry.