Abbey Lincoln

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Abbey Lincoln
Abbey Lincoln.JPG
Abbey Lincoln in concert, 1992
Background information
Birth name Anna Marie Wooldridge
Born (1930-08-06)August 6, 1930
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died August 14, 2010(2010-08-14) (aged 80)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Genres Jazz
Occupations Singer, songwriter, actress, civil rights activist
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1956–2007
Labels Riverside, Verve

Anna Marie Wooldridge (August 6, 1930 – August 14, 2010),[1] known by her stage name Abbey Lincoln, was an American jazz vocalist, songwriter, and actress, who wrote and performed her own compositions.


Lincoln was one of many singers influenced by Billie Holiday. She often visited the Blue Note jazz club in New York City.[2] 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!.[3] 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. 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.[4][5]


With Ivan Dixon, she co-starred in Nothing But a Man, an independent film written and directed by Michael Roemer. In 1968 she also co-starred with Sidney Poitier and Beau Bridges in For Love of Ivy,[6] and received a 1969 Golden Globe nomination for her appearance in the film.

Lincoln also appeared in 1956 in The Girl Can’t Help It, for which she wore a dress which had been worn by Marilyn Monroe in Gentleman Prefer Blondes, and interpreted the theme song, working with Benny Carter.[6]

In the 1990 Spike Lee movie Mo’ Better Blues, she played young Bleek Gilliams’ mother.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Lincoln was married to drummer Max Roach from 1962 to 1970. Roach’s daughter from a previous marriage, Maxine, has appeared on several of Lincoln’s albums. She was mentioned in Maya Angelou's autobiography The Heart of a Woman as a close friend.

Lincoln died on August 14, 2010 in Manhattan at the age of 80. Her death was announced by her brother, David Wooldridge, who told the New York Times that Lincoln had died in her Manhattan nursing home after suffering deteriorating health for years following open heart surgery in 2007. No cause of death was officially given. She was cremated and her ashes were scattered.[8]


With Max Roach


  1. ^ Chinen, Nate (August 14, 2010). "Abbey Lincoln, Jazz Singer and Writer, Dies at 80". New York Times. Archived from the original on 17 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-14. 
  2. ^ "Abbey Lincoln". Archived from the original on 17 May 2007. Retrieved 2 August 2007. 
  3. ^ Sally Placksin. "Jazz Profiles from NPR: Abbey Lincoln". Retrieved 2 August 2007. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Fordham, John (2010-08-15). "Abbey Lincoln obituary". The Guardian (London: Guardian Media Group). ISSN 0261-3077. OCLC 60623878. Archived from the original on 17 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  6. ^ a b "Abbey Lincoln at". Retrieved 2 August 2007. 
  7. ^ Mo’ Better Blues Full Cast
  8. ^ - accessed August 2010

External links[edit]