One of the best jazz vocalists of her generation, recipient of two Grammy Awards, Denise Garrett (a.k.a. Dee Dee Bridgewater) was born on 27 May 1950. Her father Matthew Garrett was a trumpeter of the Memphis jazz scene. When Denise turned three, the family moved to Flint, Michigan, where Matthew took a job as a security guard.

D.D.B.: My father was a jazz trumpeter. My mother loved jazz music, too. When I was a little girl, I would always listen to it. It's in my blood. My mother was a big fan of Ella Fitzgerald. She used to say that I was able to sing scat even before I learned how to talk. And I think that was true, because I was always able to sing scat. I never felt the need to learn it, it simply came natural. I think one of my main life goals is to promote traditions of jazz vocal.


In 1969, Denise Garrett performed with the band Goodrich at an University of Illinois-organised festival in Champaign. After that, the UofI jazz band director John Garvey invited Denise to tour the Soviet Union with his band for six months.

D.D.B.: I would love to tour Africa, especially Black Africa. I've given a lot of performances in North Africa, but not in Black Africa. I would also like to visit other post-Soviet states with concert programs. For example, I loved performing in Eastern Europe, as they call that region. I'd love to visit every former Communist state. I feel like there is not enough cultural exchange in the world. And I want to know more about countries like Azerbaijan.


Dee Dee participated in the recordings of artists such as Stanley Clarke (Children of Forever), Roland Kirk (Prepare Thyself to Deal with a Miracle), Frank Foster (The Loud Minority), Buddy Terry (Lean on Him) and Norman Connors (Love from the Sum).

D.D.B.:  As I grew up, I had different idols. I liked Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, as well as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and a number of lesser known singers. I loved James Brown, and I would sneak out of the house just to go and listen to him. My mother wouldn't let me, so I would sneak out while she was asleep. I love different kinds of music. Of course, among female jazz singers, I admired Ella Fitzgerald and Carmen McRae. Betty Carter has made a great influence on me; as well as Nancy Wilson, who was mainly popular in the United States.


In 1980, Bridgewater was ready to start a solo career, but in 1985 she went to Flint to help her mother who began having health problems. In 1986, she starred in musicals, but never abandoned singing. She performed alongside Clark Terry, James Moody and Jimmy McGriff. In the late 80s, Bridgewater had acquired the reputation of the most prominent European jazz vocalist. Later she recorded the song "Precious Thing" together with Ray Charles, and the song was included in Dee Dee's album Victim of Love which was released under the Polydor Records label. It immediately placed high in the jazz charts of the time. Two years after the release of Keeping Tradition, Bridgewater released Love and Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver. Once again Bridgewater was nominated for Grammy, and the album's selling record was extremely high. Bridgwater's next work was the album Dear Ella, dedicated to her idol Ella Fitzgerald.

D.D.B.:  I hope that I'll be able to record a new album this autumn. I'm planning to start doing research for that in April. Last year, I couldn't record an album, because I decided to do some theatre. I was working on a performance about Billie Holiday in New York and was occupied with it from August to January. It was completed in December. The performance is called Lady Day. The music that I'm planning to include in my next album will be blues.


In 2002, Bridgewater presented This Is New, dedicated to German composer Kurt Weill, and in 2005, her first French-language album was released. In 2007, she recorded the album Red Earth, and in 2010, Eleanora Fagan (1915‒1959): To Billie with Love from Dee Dee Bridgewater, dedicated to singer Billie Holiday. In 2011, Dee Dee presented the album Midnight Sun. The album Eleanora Fagan (1915‒1959): To Billie with Love from Dee Dee Bridgewater was a tribute to a twentieth-century vocalist who died half-a-century ago at the age of 40.

Bridgewater is a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation Ambassador and importantly enough a human rights activist and a women's rights activist.

D.D.B.:  It is very important for me to be heard in the issues that I address. As a woman, I cannot remain uninvolved and silent about the problems that women around the world are facing. Here in the US, the Republican Party is currently trying to rid us of many rights, our reproductive rights.

I made a video in which I speak in defence of our reproductive rights. I am very concerned about women's rights in the US, because there is currently a very strong movement pushed by the Republicans and aimed at taking away many of women's rights. At the same time, there is a movement aimed at banning African Americans from being able to vote.