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Abbey Lincoln, Jazz Singer-Songwriter and Civil Rights Activist, Passes Away At 80

The world of music suffered a great loss on August 14, 2010, with the death of legendary jazz singer-songwriter Abbey Lincoln. The talented artist enjoyed a remarkable 50-year-long career and earned her reputation as the great female voice of the post-free era by both writing and performing her own compositions.

Like her hero and one of her greatest inspirations, Billie Holiday (she recorded two tribute albums to Lady Day), Lincoln—a warrior against racism—was very deeply connected with her songs and her lyrics which often expressed the violence and bitter tragedy of the Black experience. Notably, she sang on the 1960 civil rights jazz recording We Insist! – Freedom Now Suite.

From 1957 through 2007 Lincoln released 22 albums (the second half of which were released on Verve) alongside famous musicians such as Eric Dolphy and one-time husband Max Roach, as well as solo works with studio musicians.

Lincoln’s incredible artistic talent was not just limited to the world of music; she was also a poet, painter and an actress.

In 2003, she was awarded the National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Masters Award, one of the highest honors for jazz musicians established in the United States.

Abbey Lincoln will forever be remembered as an extraordinarily talented artist. And her legacy continues through all of her prolific, artistic endeavors.

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