Abbey Lincoln Biography

Anna Marie Wooldridge, 6 August 1930, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Lincoln began singing publicly in the early 50s, working in Chicago nightclubs and using a variety of pseudonyms, including Anna Marie and Gaby Lee, as well as her real name. By the middle of the decade she was using the name by which she has since been largely known. She appeared successfully at the Moulin Rouge in Los Angeles and also made her first records, with Benny Carter, but was soon associating with bop musicians including Thelonious Monk, Mal Waldron and Max Roach. Her style changed during these years and following her marriage to Roach in 1962 she also became more politically aware. She wrote some of her own material, much of it stressing the rising tide of black consciousness in the USA. She collaborated with Roach on some important works, including We Insist!, Freedom Now Suite and Straight Ahead. In the 60s Lincoln had a simultaneous career as an actress, co-starring in the films Nothing But A Man (1964) and For Love Of Ivy (1968), for both of which she received excellent notices.

Following a tour of Africa in the mid-70s, she adopted the name Aminata Moseka (her marriage to Roach had ended in 1970) and some subsequent albums were released under this name. With a deeply emotional singing voice, she has always made a close connection with her audiences. Her style veers between powerful versions of ballads from her early years and the sometimes bitter polemic of her middle period. By the late 80s her repertoire was once again featuring love songs and more accessible material akin to that of her youth, and her work for Verve Records from the 90s onwards has proved to be an admirable showcase for her suitably mature vocal talents. Nevertheless, it is probable that her politically motivated material will prove to be her most lasting contribution to black American culture.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.