Sunday, December 12, 2010

Happy Birthday: Joe Williams, Dionne Warwick, Frank Sinatra, Sheila E

Joe Williams (December 12, 1918 – March 29, 1999) was a well-known jazz vocalist, a baritone singing a mixture of blues, ballads, popular songs, and jazz standards.

Williams has worked with the likes of Jazz vibraphonist Lionel Hampton and most notably with the Count Basie Orchestra where he got his biggest break and toured Europe with the ensemble in the 1950's. He later had a recurring television role in the 1980's on the hit sitcom The Cosby Show playing "Grandpa Al" Hanks, the father of Claire Huxtable.


Dionne Warwick (born December 12, 1940) is an American singer and actress who became a United Nations Global Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization, and a United States Ambassador of Health.

Best known for her partnership with Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Warwick ranks among the 40 biggest hit makers of the entire rock era (1955 - 2009), based on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles Charts. According to Billboard Magazine, Warwick ranks second only to Aretha Franklin as the most charted female vocalist with 56 singles making the Billboard Hot 100 between 1962 and 1998. Warwick is the sister of singer Dee Dee Warwick, and also related to singers Whitney Houston (cousin) and Cissy Houston (aunt, Whitney's mother).


Frank Sinatra (December 12, 1915 – May 14, 1998) was a singer and actor. Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became a successful solo artist in the early to mid-1940s, being the idol of the "bobby soxers." His professional career had stalled by the 1950s, but it was reborn in 1954 after he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (for his performance in From Here to Eternity).

He signed with Capitol Records and released several albums, such as In the Wee Small Hours, Songs for Swingin' Lovers, Come Fly with Me, Only the Lonely and Nice 'n' Easy. Sinatra left Capitol to found his own record label, Reprise Records (finding success with albums such as Ring-A-Ding-Ding, Sinatra at the Sands and Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim), toured internationally, and was a founding member of the Rat Pack.

In 1965, Sinatra recorded the retrospective September of My Years, starred in the Emmy-winning television special Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music, and scored hits with "Strangers in the Night" and "My Way". Sinatra retired for the first time in 1971. Two years later, however, he came out of retirement and in 1973 recorded several albums, scored a Top 40 hit with "(Theme From) New York, New York" in 1980, and toured both within the United States and internationally, using his Las Vegas shows as a home base.


Sheila Escovedo (born December 12, 1957), known by her stage name Sheila E., is a drummer and percussionist, perhaps best known for her work with Prince and Ringo Starr. Sheila E. is the daughter of percussionist Pete Escovedo, with whom she frequently performs.

She made her recording debut with jazz bassist Alphonso Johnson on "Yesterday's Dream" in 1976. By her early twenties she had already played with George Duke, Lionel Richie, Marvin Gaye, Herbie Hancock, and Diana Ross. She also plays violin and guitar.

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