Jackie Washington

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Jackie Washington
Also known as Jack
Born November 12, 1919
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Origin Canada
Died June 27, 2009 (aged 89)
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Genres Jazz, blues, folk
Occupation(s) singer-songwriter
Years active 1930–2009
Labels Borealis Records
Associated acts The Washingtons,
Scarlett, Washington & Whiteley
Website web.archive.org/web/20080918052428/http://www.jackiewashington.com:80/

Jackie Washington (November 12, 1919 — June 27, 2009[1]) was a Canadian blues musician.


He was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, the grandson of a runaway slave, and one of fifteen children born to his parents, Rose and John Washington.[2] Washington became Canada's first black disc jockey in 1948, at CHML in Hamilton.[3][4] He had his own show on CHML from 1948 to 1950.[5]

Washington came from a large family of musicians, including his brothers Reg (Hammond B3) and Dickie (drums). He began singing in public, at the age of five, with his brother Ormsby.[6] In the 1930s, he was one of the Washington Brothers, who played clubs and nightspots until his brother's tragic death by drowning.[7] Washington played in various coffeehouses while also working as a railroad porter and later at Fort Erie Race Track.[6] Following a divorce he played far less and was an alcoholic. Following a recovery Washington played with saxophonist Freddie Purser for many years during the 1970s and 1980s at the Windsor and Royal taverns in Hamilton. As a solo artist he appeared at Hamilton`s Festival of Friends a record 29 years. In 1980 Washington played the part of the janitor in the film adaptation of the play: Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave.[8] He also appeared in the 2005 television documentary: I Want To Be Happy: The Jackie Washington Story.[9]

His first release as a solo blues artist was Blues and Sentimental in June 1976. In addition to his own albums, Washington appeared on recordings by Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot. He had also been a regular performer at many Canadian folk and blues festivals, several of which have named awards in his honour. Washington was well known for having a repertoire of some 1300 blues, folk and jazz songs.[10] A diabetic, he lost a leg to amputation and suffered other health issues, yet continued to perform. His fellow musicians ultimately arranged a living trust starting with a tribute concert at the Tivoli Theatre in Hamilton. Featured artists were Jeff Healey, Garnet Rogers and Tom Wilson among others. Jackie then lived in a retirement home until his death. The accordance with his will, his vast music sheets, photographs and videos were donated to the music department at McMaster University. In 2003, a park in Hamilton was named in his honor. It was located near the neighborhood where he grew up.[11]

He was nominated for a Juno Award in 1993 for Best Roots & Traditional Album, along with Ken Whiteley and Mose Scarlett, for their album Where Old Friends Meet. In 1995 Washington was inducted into Hamilton's Gallery of Distinction.[12] In 2002, he was inducted into the Canadian Jazz & Blues Hall of Fame.[13]

Canadian artist Colin Linden paid tribute to Washington with the song "Jackie Washington", released on the 2003 album BARK by Linden's band Blackie & The Rodeo Kings.


  • Blues and Sentimental (Knight II, 1976, review)[14]
  • Where Old Friends Meet (Borealis, 1991) (with Mose Scarlett and Ken Whiteley)[15]
  • Jackie Washington and Friends in Concert on December 4, 1994 (Sound of Jazz Concerts, 1994)[16]
  • Keeping Out of Mischief (Borealis, 1995, reviews)[14][15][17]
  • Three by Three (Borealis, 1995; foregoing is one of the 3 CDs in this set) (with Mose Scarlett and Ken Whiteley)[15]
  • Midnight Choo Choo (Borealis, 1998, reviews)[14][17]
  • We'll Meet Again (Borealis, 1999) (with Mose Scarlett and Ken Whiteley)
  • Sitting on a Rainbow (Borealis, 2003) (with Mose Scarlett and Ken Whiteley)

Songs in other projects[edit]


See also[edit]

  • Strecker, James (1988). Talks with Jackie Washington. Image Publishing. ISBN 978-0-919357-57-0. 
  • Strecker, James (1996). More Than A Blues Singer: Jackie Washington Tells His Story. Mini Mocho Press. ISBN 978-0-921980-13-1. 


  1. ^ Jackie Washington: 1919-2009 Archived June 29, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.. Hamilton Spectator, June 27, 2009.
  2. ^ Graham Rockingham. "Life of Hamilton Icon Celebrated." Hamilton (Ontario) Spectator, July 9, 2009, p. A1.
  3. ^ p. 4, bio in: Folk Prints Fall 2001 Archived 2011-07-06 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 11-01-2009.
  4. ^ Jackie Washington article, in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Retrieved 11-01-2009.
  5. ^ "Citizens of Distinction." Hamilton (Ontario) Spectator, November 11, 1995, p. 12.
  6. ^ a b Ken Whiteley. "Last Chorus: Jackie Washington." Sing Out, Spring 2010, p. 164.
  7. ^ Tennant, James, "Forever Jackie", in Hamilton Magazine. Retrieved 15-06-2012.
  8. ^ Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave at Answers.com. Retrieved 10-01-2009.
  9. ^ I Want To Be Happy at Telefilm Canada Archived 2007-12-11 at the Canadian Government Web Archive
  10. ^ Budd, Barbara (2009-06-29). "Obit: Jackie Washington". As It Happens, CBC Radio One. Retrieved 2009-08-29. [dead link]
  11. ^ "Jackie Washington Rotary Park." Hamilton (Ontario) Spectator, November 2, 2012, p. A4.
  12. ^ Jackie Washington profile at the Hamilton Gallery of Distinction. Retrieved 25-10-2008.
  13. ^ National Jazz Awards 2002 article at Billboard. Retrieved 10-01-2009.
  14. ^ a b c Kidney, David (2003). "(Review) Jackie Washington". Green Man Review (Midwinters Night Publishing). Archived from the original on 2010-12-16. Retrieved 2009-11-01. 
  15. ^ a b c Year of release refers to year of original release on Pyramid Records. Later re-released by Borealis Records, subsequent to its formation in 1996. See Jackie Washington Discography Archived January 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. at The Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.
  16. ^ Canadian Jazz Archive Online, Jackie Washington biography[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ a b Wilburn, Gene (1999). "Jackie Washington". Northern Journey Online. Archived from the original on 2012-02-20. Retrieved 2009-11-01. 


External links[edit]