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Blues and Dinah Washington

" Once Ruth started school, she came to realize how poor her family was; as a recent migrant from the South, she was at the bottom of the social hierarchy in the black community.

However, she had already begun to show talent as a singer and piano player, singing gospel in the local Baptist church and learning to play under her mother's tutelage. Her minor success singing in various area churches began to give her some standing in school, though she earned very little in the early years, and the memories of the poverty that required her to wash out her mother's stockings in order to dress up stayed with her for the rest of her life.

She began to listen to secular music, coming to idolize Billie Holiday. She perfected her flawless diction by listening to records and watching Bette Davis movies, and, at 15, she won a talent contest which she entered without her mother's knowledge. This led to opportunities to sing in local clubs, where she began to work, again without permission from her mother. Shortly afterwards, she was taken under the wing of gospel singer Sallie Martin who hired her at 16 as her accompanist. Martin allowed her to sing in the act and taught her a great deal about professionalism and the importance of recording her music.

By the time she turned 17, she had left Martin and the restrictions (esp


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Blues and Dinah Washington. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:17, October 25, 2014, from
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