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Who is Ernestine Anderson and what are her contributions to music?

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A longtime blues and jazz singer with a career that spans five decades, Ernestine Anderson grew up in Houston and has sung since she was three. She has been nominated for Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Performance of a Female during the years of 1996-1991, and has been compared to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sarah Vaughn. Among the awards that she has won are the following:

  • Golden Umbrella, Seattle, Washington, 2002
  • IMPACT Award, 2004. This award is for music that ("crosses all boundaries") 
  • Anderson was selected to be written about in the Pulitzer-Prize winning book I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America (1999)

Ms. Anderson tells of her beginnings as a jazz singer: Her parents always listened to blues recordings by John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and took her with them when the big bands such as Count Basie and Erksine Hawkins came to Houston. And, at church, everyone sang, so she grew up singing. When her godmother entered her at twelve years old in a local talent contest, the piano player asked which key she wanted him to play her song, "The Sunny Side of the Street," she wrongly said "C." "In order to save face, I sang around the melody and improvised." After she finished the song, one of the musicians told her she was a jazz singer.

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