Our Collaborators and Friends

Dee Alexander

Born on Chicago’s west side, Dee Alexander is one of Chicago’s most gifted and respected female vocalist/songwriters. Her talents span every music genre, from Gospel to R&B, from Blues to Neo-Soul. Growing up in a household that was steeped in recordings of Dinah Washington, Ms. Alexander gravitated toward jazz from an early age. Other influences include Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and a little-known, much respected Chicago saxophonist, Light Henry Huff, with whom she worked in the late 80s. Huff encouraged her to take chances with making her own sounds, and the result is that her skills as an improviser are without boundary. A veteran on the Chicago scene since the 80s, Alexander’s associations with Chicago’s jazz elite include Ramsey Lewis, Orbert Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, Chicago Jazz Orchestra, pianist Ken Chaney, Ernest Dawkins Chicago 12, Nicole M. Mitchell and Douglas Ewart’s Inventions. Her affiliation with the Association of the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) has also proved invaluable in her musical journey. Her 2007 Sirens of Song tribute to Nina Simone and Dinah Washington in Chicago’s Millennium Park introduced her to a larger audience and marked the beginning of world recognition for her artistry as well, touring extensively in France, Italy, Germany and Poland. She leads her own Dee Alexander Quartet, and the Evolution Ensemble whose music ranges from original compositions to renditions of James Brown and Jimi Hendrix. She has garnered accolades in African, Australian, European and North American press and was the recipient of the Chicagoan of the Year in Jazz award in 2008, and her CD Wild is the Wind was named the album of the summer in France in 2009 and earned her top votes in Downbeat’s readers and Critics polls; received 5 stars in Downbeat and was chosen as one of its top ten recordings on the first decade of the new Millennium. She was the recipient of the 3Arts Award for Music in 2012. Her performance at the 2013 Newport Jazz Festival was selected by the NY Times as one of the best concerts with staying power. Dee’s current project, “Songs My Mother Loves” has received rave reviews and is intended not only to express thanks and pay tribute to Dee's mother for her inspiration and influence, but also to pay homage to the music that has become such a significant part of her life.