Young, acting as her agent, got Ruth her first jobs singing in clubs on the South Side, where her voice impressed other performers such as Fats Waller, but her personality impressed other men enough to break up the brief first marriage.
Around this time, she decided that a name change was in order; several people have since claimed responsibility for suggesting Dinah Washington, including band leader Lionel Hampton. Hampton heard her sing and asked her to join his band. He recalls their first meeting:
"What's your name?" I asked. "Ruth Jones." "You can't become a star with that name. We'll find you another one," I hinted. "I don't care what you call me, as long as you let me sing," she answered and, after a pause, added, "And as long as you pay me."
By 19, under the name of Dinah Washington, she recorded her first record with a group of Hampton's musicians, in a backroom session that produced four blues hits. She left Hampton's orchestra before she had turned 21, to concentrate on singing the blues and record with Apollo Records, recordings that were well-received: "The descriptive words used by critics were instructive: velvet, silken."
In the summer of 1946, she married drummer George Jenkins and continued her career singing in small clubs and honkytonks across the country; in 1947, she gave birth to George Jenkins, Jr. and shortly afterward divorced his father because of his drug habit. Her second child, Robert Grayson, Jr., known as Bobby, was born the following summer; she had married his father, whom she had known from childhood, as soon as her second divorce was finalized.
Although now a star, she was restricted, by singing only the blues, to what was then known as the "race" market. In 1949, Billboard changed the term from "race records" to "rhythm and blues," which "described a particular form of urban black music. Dinah had the distinction of being among the first artists on that new chart." ...
Blues Singer Dinah Washington. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 17:10, June 30, 2016, from http://www.collegetermpapers.com/viewpaper/1303823111.html