The Kennedy Center

Abbey Lincoln



Biography

Abbey Lincoln is a legendary singer and composer, as well as an accomplished actress. Born Anna Marie Wooldridge in Chicago as the tenth of 12 children, Ms. Lincoln grew up on a farm in the small township of Calvin Center, Michigan. She has earned a place among the “greats” of jazz. Married to Max Roach in 1961, she met Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane in New York. Her circle included thinkers and activists such as James Baldwin, Paula Marshall, and Maya Angelou. In 1961 she recorded We Insist! Freedom Now Suite with Roach. During this period she played the female lead in two major motion pictures, the civil rights-inspired Nothing But a Man with Ivan Dixon (1964) and the classic comedy For the Love of Ivy with Sidney Poitier, Beau Bridges, Carroll O'Connor, and Anne Meara (1968). She left New York City in 1970, but returned a decade later to form new bands. Her early albums include Abby Lincoln's Affair...A Story of a Girl in Love (Liberty), That's Him and Abbey is Blue (Riverside), and Straight Ahead (Candid). Since 1989, Polygram France has recorded Ms. Lincoln, marketing her records on the Verve label in the United States as well as in Europe. Her recordings include The World is Falling Down, You Gotta Pay the Band, Devil's Got Your Tongue, When There is Love, A Turtle's Dream, and Who Used to Dance, Wholly Earth, and Over the Years (the latter released October 2000). The recipient of numerous civic and community awards for her work with the poor and disadvantaged, Ms. Lincoln has resisted the bleak side of life to emerge as a genuine carrier of celebration through music. Ms. Lincoln’s most recent appearance for the Kennedy Center was with her quartet on March 30, 2001 as part of the Louis Armstrong Legacy Series.


“There was no denying the sheer power of Lincoln’s spirit and soulfulness…rewarding to hear.” (Mike Joyce, The Washington Post)

February 2003
Abbey Lincoln

Additional Resources