Baby Washington Biography

Justine Washington, 13 November 1940, Bamberg, South Carolina, USA. Washington’s (aka Jeanette Washington) tremendously moving voice, earthy but sophisticated, perfectly epitomized uptown soul. Yet unlike her southern counterparts she never experienced great crossover recognition, although once cited by Dusty Springfield as her all-time favourite singer.

Washington was raised in Harlem, singing first in a vocal group, the Hearts, in 1956 and becoming a solo artist the following year for the J&S label. She built a career with 16 chart entries during a decade and a half, most of them during the 60s, recording in New York first for Donald Shaw’s Neptune label and then for Juggy Murray’s Sue Records label. She established herself as a major soul singer recording ‘The Time’ (US R&B Top 30) and ‘The Bells’ (US R&B Top 20), both in 1959, and ‘Nobody Cares’ (US R&B Top 20) in 1961. Moving to Sue Records in 1962, Washington hit the US national Top 40 with the sublime ‘That’s How Heartaches Are Made’ (1963) and the US R&B Top 10 with ‘Only Those In Love’ (1965). Washington revived her career in the early 70s, recording in Philadelphia a duet with Don Gardner, a revival of the Marvelettes’ ‘Forever’, (number 30 R&B), a solo release ‘I’ve Got To Break Away’ (number 73 R&B), and a well-received album. The coming of disco in the mid-70s effectively killed her career, as it did those of many soul artists.

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