CULTURE

Dee Dee sings for Billie in Athens

Three Grammys and a Tony Award are but a reflection of Dee Dee Bridgewater?s 40-year-old career. An international jazz star and seasoned stage performer, Bridgewater is scheduled to appear at the Athens Concert Hall on Saturday, March 12.

The single live appearance is part of the Bridges Series and will see Bridgewater paying tribute to jazz legend Billie Holiday. She will be accompanied by what she refers to as her ?dream band,? pianist Edsel Gomez Rentas, saxophone player Craig Handy, bassist Kenny Davis and drummer Lewis Nash.

The evening?s program will include tracks from ?Eleanora Fagan 1915-1959: To Billie with Love from Dee Dee,? an album dedicated to Holiday for which Bridgewater earned a Grammy Award last month.

Bridgewater returns to Holiday territory following ?Lady Day,? a musical based on the late singer?s life. Cast in the lead role, Bridgewater appeared in the musical in theaters in Paris and London in the mid-1980s, earning a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for her efforts.

Born Denise Eileen Garrett in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1950, Bridgewater grew up in Flint, Michigan. She enrolled at Michigan State University and then at the University of Illinois where she met her first husband, trumpet player Cecil Bridgewater. They married in 1970 and subsequently settled in New York. While Cecil joined Horace Silver?s ensemble and went on to built a solid career, his wife began making a name for herself when she became the lead vocalist of the Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. Soon she was working with legendary names such as Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie and Dexter Gordon. Her first solo album, ?Afro Blue,? was released in 1974.

Her talents were also explored in a number of musicals, although she always returned to jazz. In 1986, Bridgewater moved to Paris and has been commuting between Europe and the US West Coast ever since.

Throughout her career, the artist has paid several tributes to the great figures of jazz. There was the Grammy-winning ?Dear Ella,? dedicated to Ella Fitzgerald in 1997, ?Love and Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver,? following a four-year collaboration with the artist in 1995, and ?This Is New,? a homage to Kurt Weill, in 2002.

Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali