One of my favorite Alabamians is the Queen of Blues, Dinah Washington. Born in Tuscaloosa in 1924 as Ruth Lee Jones, Dinah rose to fame in the 1950’s with her earthy voice that thrilled fans, but baffled and often irritated the critics because she was able to bounce from one genre to the next with no effort whatsoever. Gospel, blues, jazz and even pop numbers showed her range of talent.
When I taught school, I exposed my inner-city Kindergarteners to all types of music. Classical, jazz, country, and even showed them old movie musicals. (They thought, “Singing in the Rain” was the strangest thing they’d ever seen!).Â
But when I played Dinah Washington, the children were mesmerized. We listened to her music for weeks while we painted, built puzzles and looked at books. It was about that same time that my dreamy boyfriend proposed.
I told him I had the perfect song for our first dance at the wedding reception.
It wasn’t Dinah’s most popular song, “What a Difference A Day Makes,” but a much more obscure tune named, “I Only Know” It was the perfect song for our first dance. We didn’t want to use any old typical, predictable song, and this was definitely unique (our band had to learn it), and a very special Alabama touch for us.
Several of the children from my class made the long trip to Georgia to attend my wedding. They were so excited to realize they remembered the first dance song from our classroom.
Here it is, Alabama’s own Dinah Washington singing, “I Only Know.”
Happy Valentine’s Day to you, and to my own dear Valentine.