Julia Keefe: Recognizing the legacy of Mildred Rinker Bailey
Posted: Friday, March 30, 2012
"My name is Julia Keefe, and I am a student at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, studying vocal jazz performance. I am also a member of the Nez Perce Indian Tribe. Shortly after I first became interested in jazz over 10 years ago, I began researching the life of Bing Crosby, who also attended my high school, Gonzaga Prep, in Spokane, WA. I was surprised and happy to learn that Bing Crosby gave credit for his early success to a Native American woman from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe named Mildred Rinker Bailey who had, like me, lived her formative childhood years on her Idaho tribal reservation before moving to Spokane and discovering jazz. I am writing to urge that Mildred Bailey be considered for induction into the Neshui Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame in recognition of her groundbreaking role in jazz history.
To say that Mildred Bailey inspired me in my chosen vocation as a jazz singer would be a great understatement. But I am not alone. Bing Crosby once said, “I was lucky in knowing the great jazz and blues singer Mildred Bailey so early in life. I learned a lot from her. She made records which are still vocal classics, and she taught me much about singing and interpreting popular songs.” And a sideman from her husband Red Norvo’s band, trumpeter Lyle “Rusty” Dedrick once wrote, “She had a magic. So many people down the line, so many singers, benefited from her, owe debts to her—and they don’t even know it. Mildred Bailey probably never made a bad record; she made many that were excellent, and quite a few considerably better, even, than that.”"
Get the Story:
Julia Keefe: An Open Letter to the Neshui Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame
(Indian Country Today 3/29)
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