abbey lincoln

Happy Birthday Moseka! WBGO Honors Abbey Lincoln

It's Abbey Lincoln's birthday. A truly great singer and fearless jazz spirit, WBGO had the good fortune to share many moments with her over the years, and we honored her as a Champion of Jazz in 2006. We would like to share some of these with you as we honor her again today.

Some knew her as Aminata Moseka, names she was given in Africa, or Anna Maria Woolridge, the name she was given at birth.

Most jazz lovers know her as Abbey. Just as Ella was simply Ella, and Sarah was Sarah, Abbey needs no introduction or explanation: she's Abbey.

Here are highlights from a 2002 interview at her home with WBGO's Josh Jackson:

11 01 13_AbbeyLincolnFsm_ScottSternberg
Photo by Scott Sternberg, courtesy of Enja

Here is an unedited version of that 45-minute interview:

On this recent edition of Jackson's weekly new-music program The Checkout, Lincoln's longtime pianist Marc Cary speaks about her influence and plays music from his recent solo record on Motema, For the Love of Abbey. Pyeng Threadgill is the singer.

Cary reflects more on his time with Lincoln here, which includes this 1996 at New York's "Iridium" club, along with Michael Bowie on bass and Aaron Walker on drums, when she sang her composition "Bird Alone":

Here is a video of Lincoln performing her composition "Down Here Below" with Cary:

Abbey was featured several times on our nationally syndicated program JazzSet: Click here to hear a recording we made of Abbey in 1984 at the Peppermint Lounge in Orange, New Jersey with pianist James Weidman, and brothers Billy and Mark Johnson on bass and drums, respectively. Weidman also shares recollections of Abbey in this edition of JazzSet, which aired in 2011, three years after her death.

Also in 2011, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves and Cassandra Wilson explored the Abbey Lincoln Songbook in this tribute to Abbey at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Bridgewater, Musical Director Terri Lyne Carrington, Wilson and Reeves
Bridgewater, Musical Director Terri Lyne Carrington, Wilson and Reeves

Also for JazzSet, Abbey performed at the Detroit International Jazz Festival in 2000, with Brandon McCune on piano, John Ormond on bass and Jaz Sawyer on drums.

In 2010, WBGO's Michael Bourne hosted a special two-hour tribute and retrospective of Abbey's greatest recordings on our show Singers Unlimited.

First hour:

Second hour:

Finally, Monifa Brown, the host of WBGO's Saturday Afternoon Jazz, contributes this poem to the singer.

Happy birthday and thank you, Abbey, from all your friends at WBGO!

ABBEY LINCOLN

By Monifa Brown

© 2013

Abbey Lincoln sings the songs of me and you

Oh yeah, She could write it for a song

Molding time and space into the here and now

Unearthing encrypted tales risen from the dusty embers of Mother Earth

AMINATA MOSEKA, AMINATA MOSEKA, AMINATA MOSEKA

Crocheting Indigo and Fuchsia singed lines with golden stroked wishes

Weaving yesterdays with tomorrows into a patchwork of Turtle Dreams

Shifting the continental plates with pure invention and intention…

making our world seem wondrously small

connecting you and I to he and she and him and her and them and us….

‘I Got Some People In Me.’  ‘I Got Some People In Me.’

Abbey Lincoln sings the songs of me and you

Oh yeah, She could write it for a song

Cascading vowels that gather like kaleidoscopic images in the darkness of light

Abbey was like the rainbow out the window amidst the fallen rain when the storm had cleared -

A Bird Alone.

When The World Is Falling Down – hold tight to her words

Keep your hands wide open, let the sun shine through, you can never lose something if it belongs to you.”

“Throw it Away! Throw It Away!”

AMINATA MOSEKA, AMINATA MOSEKA, AMINATA MOSEKA

She IS the Nomo, the power of the spoken word

A goddess whose muse is the magic of the secret world

Freeing stunted spirits Who Used To Dance

Abbey Lincoln sings the songs of me and you

Oh yeah, She could write it for a song.

Abbey Lincoln