A Dinah Washington Valentine

February 14, 2016


Dinah Washington - A favorite Alabama native.
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!). Alabama native, Dinah Washington

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.

Native Alabamian, Dinah WashingtonIt 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.

  • Hi Little Bitty Pretty! Oh, you’ve been touching lives for some time! I’m sure you were a wonderful teacher and love Dinah’s music! A very romantic memory too! Although her photo on the stamp makes her look a little like a vampire! 😉
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia 😉

  • Judy smith says:

    What a happy surprise to see Dinah Washington featured in your post today. I grew up on a ranch in the middle of the the Nevada desert where country music prevailed. I first heard Dinah on a friends LP album when I was 15 and I have loved her since. Her music has been with me through the years and even my children and several grand kids can sing along with her today. I have always thought that you were fabulous and funny, but now I know that you have exceptional taste in music as well.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Isn’t it funny how you can bond with someone and then all of the similarities seem to pour out at once! Few people are familiar with Dinah’s music, even here in Alabama, so I’m thrilled you have a “history” with her!

      Thanks so much for reading, and I’m so glad you commented!

  • I play music in the classroom all the time, I will add her to my collection. Great post.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Music in the classroom is so important to their little brains — and it’s just plain fun too!

  • I don’t know the song, but it is my kind of music. I totally love it and what a great song for a wedding.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Hope you’ve had a great Valentine’s Day! Thanks.

  • Sweet story and I love this song!. Wish you’d posted a video of you and husband’s dance. Happy Heart day…….

    • Leslie Anne says:

      You know, I thought about it, but I don’t have any digital photos. Scanning all those old pictures will be a job for a rainy day! Glad you liked the song.

  • Love Dinah! Did she sing “Broken Hearted Melody”?

    • Leslie Anne says:

      That didn’t ring a bell, so I looked it up and Broken Hearted Melody is attributed mainly to Sarah Vaughan.

  • What a neat story! I always have loved listening to her incomparable voice. Now I am off to play your link.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Enjoy, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • arlene cocke says:

    Oh what a treat on this VDay!
    Thank you!
    What lucky little children to have had you for a teacher!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      I had a great time teaching and those children appreciated every single thing we did for them. It was the best place ever to teach!

  • Not familiar with this song but love it.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      It’s hard to dance to, but we like it too.

  • What a precious Valentine memory. Thanks for sharing.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Thanks for reading, and Happy Valentine’s Day to you!

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