Anna Marie Wooldridge (August 6, 1930 – August 14, 2010), known by her stage name Abbey Lincoln, was an American jazz vocalist, songwriter, and actress, who wrote and performed her own compositions. She was a civil rights advocate and activist from the 1960s on.
Born in Chicago but raised in Calvin Center, Cass County, Michigan, Lincoln was one of many singers influenced by Billie Holiday. She often visited the Blue Note jazz club in New York City. Her debut album, Abbey Lincoln’s Affair – A Story of a Girl in Love, was followed by a series of albums for Riverside Records. In 1960 she sang on Max Roach’s landmark civil rights-themed recording, We Insist! Lincoln’s lyrics were often connected to the civil rights movement in America.
During the 1980s, Lincoln’s creative output was smaller and she released only a few albums during that decade. Her song “For All We Know” is featured in the 1989 film Drugstore Cowboy. During the 1990s and until her death, however, she fulfilled a 10-album contract with Verve Records. After a tour of Africa in the mid-1970s, she adopted the name Aminata Moseka.
These albums are highly regarded and represent a crowning achievement in Lincoln’s career. Devil’s Got Your Tongue (1992) featured Rodney Kendrick, Grady Tate, J. J. Johnson, Stanley Turrentine, Babatunde Olatunji and The Staple Singers, among others. In 2003, Lincoln received a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award.
Her lyrics often reflected the ideals of the civil rights movement and helped in generating passion for the cause in the minds of her listeners. In addition to her musical career, she ventured into acting as well and appeared in movies such as The Girl Can’t Help It and Gentleman Prefer Blondes. She explored more philosophical themes during the later years of her songwriting career and remained professionally active until well into her seventies.
A pioneer of the bebop style, drummer Max Roach spent decades creating innovative jazz.
“You can’t write the same book twice. Though I’ve been in historic musical situations, I can’t go back and do that again. And though I run into artistic crises, they keep my life interesting.”
Max Roach was born on January 10, 1924, in New Land, North Carolina. He was raised in Brooklyn and studied at the Manhattan School of Music. One of the great jazz drummers and a pioneer of bebop, he worked with Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Charlie Parker and Clifford Brown. Roach was also a composer and a professor of music at the University of Massachusetts. He died in New York City in 2007.
Maxwell Lemuel Roach, generally known as Max Roach, was born on January 10, 1924, in New Land, North Carolina. He was raised in Brooklyn and played in gospel groups as a child. Though he started on the piano, Roach found his instrument when he began playing the drums at age 10.
Growing up in New York City exposed Roach to an exuberant jazz scene. In 1940, 16-year-old Roach filled in with Duke Ellington’s orchestra. During the 1940s, he played with jazz greats like Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Benny Carter and Stan Getz. Roach further developed his skills by studying at the Manhattan School of Music.
Roach joined with Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and others to help bebop—a form of jazz that featured more intense rhythms and sophisticated musicality—come into being. He soon gained a reputation as a virtuoso bebop drummer, one who could enhance a song with his musical choices. From 1947 to 1949, Roach was part of Parker’s trailblazing quintet.
Roach’s drumming could be heard on many recordings, starting with his debut with Hawkins in 1943. His other albums include Woody ‘n’ You (1944)—considered one of the first bebop records—and Davis’s Birth of the Cool sessions in 1949-50. In 1952, Roach co-founded Debut Records with Charles Mingus. The label released a recording of a seminal jazz concert held at Massey Hall in 1953, where Roach performed with Mingus, Parker, Gillespie and Bud Powell.
In 1954, Roach and Clifford Brown formed a quintet that became one of the most highly regarded groups in modern jazz. Unfortunately, their collaboration ended when Brown and another member of the group were killed in a 1956 car accident. The loss was a depressing blow for Roach; he began drinking heavily, but eventually sought professional help to regain his footing. He also continued creating music, taking on projects with Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins.
With We Insist! Freedom Now Suite (1960), Roach used music to address the need for racial equality. Despite the risks that taking an outspoken political stance posed to his career, Roach continued to support the Civil Rights Movement. He later created a drum accompaniment for Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech