The Queen: God Bless Her. Anyone who loved Dinah Washington as I did will appreciate this book by Nadine Cohodas, which beautifully documents the joys and sorrows of the life of this lady who was a peer of her contemporaries, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday.
--George Wein, author of Myself Among Others and founder of the Newport Jazz Festival
Dinah Washington died at 39, but packed so much life and incident into every moment it's a wonder that Nadine Cohodas could sort it out; the marital adventures alone might have daunted a less avid biographer. Nor does she slight her music. Dinah could make every kind of song vital and personal, no matter the context--jazz, blues, swing, pop, r&b, or r&r. Cohodas captures the Queen in all her obstinate spitfire glory.
--Gary Giddins, author of Weather Bird and Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams
...Superb portrait....Queen, Nadine Cohodas's superb biography, restores the luster of Washington's crown, detailing a life lived not always wisely but certainly with vigor. Fortunately, this isn't a book concerned only with gossip and dish. Cohodas pays keen attention to Washington's prolific career, during which she moved confidently among jazz, blues, pop standards and R&B.
--Boston Globe and International Herald Tribune
Nadine Cohodas's rich, well-researched biography compellingly charts her subject's rise, and the stormy dramas which attended it. Wilful and volatile, the Queen of the Blues always got what she wanted....The Dinah Washington who dominates these pages does not seem at all cut out for the role of victim. Whatever the cost, she was every inch the Queen.
"Queen," a vibrant new book by Nadine Cohodas, brings out in vivid
Technicolor the woman many of us know only from her records. It's a
revelation in many ways. In its early pages, especially, the book brings
out a side of Dinah Washington few of us would have guessed existed. We
know the big, nervy voice, the authoritative vibrato, the sophisticated,
worldly syllables. Few can imagine that the singer was once a little girl.
...Queen is a wonderful and invaluable addition to music biography and cultural history.
...essential reading... Queen makes us believe in Dinah Washington's talent and complexity, portraying her as bright flame whose incandesence caused her to burn out too quickly.
--The Washington Post
...enthralling....essential reading for people interested in popular culture.
--San Francisco Chronicle
...Although anecdotes of Washington's outrageous behavior abound, Queen is a serious study of an enormously gifted entertainer who persevered at a time when being black and a woman made that all the more difficult....
While readers know how the tale is going to end, it's testament to Cohodas' skills as a biographer that Washington's untimely death in 1963 manages to evoke an emotional response. This vital, vibrant character, flaws and all, still makes for great copy more than 40 years after her death.
--Florida Sun Sentinel
...what makes [Queen]more than just an entertaining celebrity bio is Cohodas' authoritative portrait of the milieu in which Washington functioned -- the labels for which she recorded, the clubs in which she performed and the road life she constantly experienced in pre-Civil Rights era America.
From being a gospel star at 15 to her hugely talented and generous career, from her many husbands to her early death at 39 from an overdose of weight-loss drugs, the intense life of singer Dinah Washington is captured beautifully in this biography.
...impressive....with depth and breath that is remarkable. It's all here: the formatives years with Lionell Hampton, the explosive solo success, the volatile temper, the incredible musicality, the obsession with clothes, shoes, furs and men, and the intense insecurity about her looks and weight that, thanks to an accidental overdose of diet pills, ultimately killed her.
--a 2004 pick for "music lovers" in USA Today and the News and Observer of Raleigh, N.C.
Cohodas vividly portrays the toubled singer, often allowing the singer to speak for herself... Long live the Queen..
--Pittsburgh Post Gazette
...a stunning biography....Queen is much more than a musical essay. With integrity Cohodas recreates the life of Washington, a legend whose recording career spanned 19 years and whose name should be mentioned in the same breath as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday.
..."a much needed portrait....the definitive biography of this important singer."
Queen comes more than 40 years after Washington's death, and Cohodas aims to remind us how much the singer meant, and could still mean. Digging deep into session lore, she also examines the reality of a woman who was at once a glamorous star and a road dog who put tens of thousands of miles on cars each year. For all her bad-girl sass and a gossip-column image that rivaled Marilyn Monroe's, Washington was a traditionalist. Cohodas suggests that even her seven marriages were the product of her upbringing in the church....Cohodas helps provide the respect that Washington craved -- but was often unfairly denied -- during her abbreviated career. To listen to her today is to realize how the church folks, juice-heads, and winos had it right: She was capable of singing to any audience, in almost any idiom.
Cohodas's biography is meaty...Dinah's love of the fabulous life coupled with her seven marriages, her crossover appeal, her battles with racism and sexism in the music industry and her untimely death at the age of 39 would have made her a prime candidate for a particularly fascinating E! True Hollywood Story.
--black issues book review
...a fascinating read that includes many never-before-seen photographs....Cohodas engagingly fleshes out the saga of Dinah's church roots, Apollo discovery, sharing r&b caravans....studio work for Keynote and Leonard Feather, Decca and Apollo and early Mercury hits such as "Slick Chick (On The Mellow Side), "Long John Blues", and the classic "TV Is The Thing This Year.
--Blues and Rhythm
...Queen...is a sweeping history of the forties' and fifties' Queen of the Blues. Cohodas documents Washington's meteoric rise, turbulent love life and convoluted finances that left a disputed, fractious estate when she died in 1963 from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs....
...Cohodas chronicles the fascinating career of one of the greatest divas of them all in Queen.... Washington's not-so-private life (she was married seven times) and tragically premature end (she overdosed on pills at age 39) are vividly detailed by Cohodas, who also expertly covers the star's audaciously invigorating music, which spanned the jazz, blues R&B and pop fields during her prolific 1946-61 stay at Mercury Records. Verve has assembled a 12 song CD to tie in with the bio, sporting the same title and artwork. Its commendably non-hit-dominated track list includes "Slick Chick," the strutting "You Let my Love Grow Cold" Washington's saucy cover of Hank Snow's "I Don,t Hurt Anymore" and the bravura blues "Trouble in the Lowlands."
...a vital biography and a superb portrait of a magnificent vocalist
[Washington sang] a wide range of material, from double entendre numbers popular with black audiences, pop confections such as her duets with Brook Benton, country classics like Hank Williams Sr.s Cold Cold Heart and songs by Noel Coward, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin. This bespeaks a musician with some chops, and Cohodas supplies the eyewitness testimony to bear that out.
Most of all Cohodas shows DInah Washington was a creature of show business, happiest when she was working and putting on the diva.
--Palm Beach Post
...this is an invaluable document.
...a breakthrough portrait. This is highly recommended.
...a fabulous book -
--WPFW, Washington, D.C.
...Queen finely details just about every facet of the singer's whirlwind life on and off the stage
...thorough and enlightening volume.
--Nashville City Paper
...[The] research is unimpeachable: Unlike previous biographers, Cohodas got extensive interviews with Washington's family, as well as exes, confidants and colleagues, and she unearthed many previously untapped court documents relating to Washington's career.
....."Queen" rises above the limitations of the usual star bio, particularly in its grasp of Washington's role as cultural innovator, a woman who moved over the years from gospel to blues to pop to jazz and wound up posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The story of Washington's creation of the original "What a Difference a Day Makes" is at the heart of this thoroughly researched biography. In this part of the book, the writing soars...It is in telling the story of how Dinah Washington came to do and the aftermath of her death Cohodas really shines. This part of Queen is among the finest biographical writing I have ever come across.
--Dennis Chute Edmonton Journal
Cohodas deftly weaves the professional and personal strands of Washington;'s professional and personal life....Queen is an important contribution to restoring the rightful place of a neglected musical giant.
...Nadine Cohodas captures the triumphs and tragedy of a singer who accurately said, "I sing everything and anything at all. I sing blues, pops and, if I have to, I can go to church."
...The achievement of this biography is to show that Washington always wanted to live to sing another day.
--New York Sun
...Queen is a compelling story that should be ine very jazz/pop lover's library.
--Chicago's Rhthym and News