Dee Dee Bridgewater (née Denise Garrett, May 27, 1950) is an American jazz singer. She is a three-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, as well as a Tony Award-winning stage actress. For 23 years, she was the host of National Public Radio’s syndicated radio show JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater. She is a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization.
Born Denise Eileen Garrett in Memphis, Tennessee, she was raised Catholic in Flint, Michigan. Her father, Matthew Garrett, was a jazz trumpeter and teacher at Manassas High School, and through his playing, she was exposed to jazz early on. At the age of sixteen, she was a member of a Rock and R&B trio, singing in clubs in Michigan. At 18, she studied at Michigan State University before she went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. With the school’s jazz band, she toured the Soviet Union in 1969.
The next year, she met trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater, and after their marriage, they moved to New York City, where Cecil played in Horace Silver‘s band. In the early 1970s, Bridgewater joined the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra as lead vocalist. This marked the beginning of her jazz career, and she performed with many of the great jazz musicians of the time, such as Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Max Roach, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Wayne Garfield, and others. She performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1973. In 1974, her first solo album, entitled Afro Blue, appeared, and she performed on Broadway in the musical The Wiz. For her role as Glinda the Good Witch she won a Tony Award in 1975 as “Best Featured Actress”, and the musical also won the 1976 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album.