Friday, August 20, 2010

THE GREAT ABBEY LINCOLN (1930-2010)--"Throw It Away" (1980 and 2007)

"You can never lose a thing if it belongs to you..."

Abbey Lincoln (born Anna Marie Wooldridge on August 6, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois) was a jazz vocalist, songwriter, and actress. In 2003 she was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts' (NEA) Jazz Masters Award.

With Ivan Dixon, she co-starred in Nothing But a Man (1964), an independent film written and directed by Michael Roemer. She also co-starred with Sidney Poitier and Beau Bridges in 1968's For Love of Ivy. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for For Love of Ivy in 1969. Abbey Lincoln also appears in the 1956 film The Girl Can't Help It, for which she interpreted the theme song, working with Benny Carter. She sang on the 60's landmark jazz civil rights recording, We Insist! - Freedom Now Suite (1960) by jazz musician Max Roach and was married to him from 1962 to 1970.

She worked with many other great jazz musicians like Sonny Rollins, Eric Dolphy, Coleman Hawkins, Jackie McLean, Clark Terry, Stanley Turrentine, Wynton Kelly, Cedar Walton, Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny, Ron Carter, and Miles Davis and made albums with Stan Getz, Mal Waldron and Archie Shepp as well as her own groups.

From the 1980 album "Painted Lady" which was recorded in Paris, France with Archie Shepp:

The following version of Abbey's magisterial song "Throw It Away" was recorded in 2007 and released on her CD "Abbey Sings Abbey". It was her final recording:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Without Vision, Courage, Conviction, and Independence There Can Be No Progressive American Politics


Dowd hits the nail squarely on its head with this editorial. Not only is everything she says here 100% accurate but she properly calls out our increasingly gutless wunderkind of a President in doing so. I've never seen any so-called "liberal reform" politician who was more afraid of simply standing on principle or upholding a firm independent political and/or moral position while facing even a modicum of ideological opposition or public pressure than Obama. It's as if ANY time rightwing demagogues choose to openly mock, attack, and dismiss this President's avowed or assumed position on ANYTHING (which of course takes place ALL THE TIME) Obama immediately blinks, waffles, backs down, equivocates, or surrenders without even the HINT of a fight. Which is precisely why the right continues to openly bully him. I'm sorry to have to say this but it's very clear to me at this point that what Barack absolutely lacks in large measure is courage, conviction, and independence. He seems motivated primarily by an adolescent ego and a desperate yearning for the rank "approval" or "bipartisan cooperation" of people who actually couldn't care less if he lived or died. If the President can't or won't honorably defend in openly aggressive, upfront, and decisive terms the human and constitutional rights of citizens to practice either religious or personal/sexual freedom in this country what good is it for him to assert that he "believes in" constitutional law and civil rights? The protection of people's human and civil rights is not an ACADEMIC EXERCISE OR ABSTRACT THEORY Mr. President. What's wrong with you brother?

What's making the present overall political and economic reality far worse is the equally stark and ugly fact that we of the American Left and progressives generally have done an absolutely abysmal and pathetic job of holding this President and his administration fully accountable for its ineptitude, irresponsibility, denial, and cluelessness when it comes to almost every single major issue facing this country. Even more importantly we have collectively failed in a major way to organize, educate, and MOBILIZE American citizens to openly demand and fight for clear cut political, economic, cultural, and ideological ALTERNATIVES to the pervasive madness, corruption and infantilism that characterizes U.S. politics today. If we were doing a much better and far more mature job ourselves then it's clear that even this President and his opportunist administration could be held to a far higher standard and actually begin to fight for genuine reform and real substantive change in this society. Until such time as these facts become an integral and dynamic part of our politics in both practical and theoretical terms the clinically psychotic far righwing led by the Republicans and the Tea Party will continue to dominate both public discourse and grassroots political movement in this country...Stay tuned...


Our Mosque Madness
August 17, 2010
New York Times


Maybe, for Barack Obama, it depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is.

When the president skittered back from his grandiose declaration at an iftar celebration at the White House Friday that Muslims enjoy freedom of religion in America and have the right to build a mosque and community center in Lower Manhattan, he offered a Clintonesque parsing.

“I was not commenting, and I will not comment, on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there,” he said the morning after he commented on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there. “I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about.”

Let me be perfectly clear, Mr. Perfectly Unclear President: You cannot take such a stand on a matter of first principle and then take it back the next morning when, lo and behold, Harry Reid goes craven and the Republicans attack. What is so frightening about Fox News?

Some critics have said the ultimate victory for Osama and the 9/11 hijackers would be to allow a mosque to be built near ground zero.

Actually, the ultimate victory for Osama and the 9/11 hijackers is the moral timidity that would ban a mosque from that neighborhood.

Our enemies struck at our heart, but did they also warp our identity?

The war against the terrorists is not a war against Islam. In fact, you can’t have an effective war against the terrorists if it is a war on Islam.

George W. Bush understood this. And it is odd to see Barack Obama less clear about this matter than his predecessor. It’s time for W. to weigh in.

This — along with immigration reform and AIDS in Africa — was one of his points of light. As the man who twice went to war in the Muslim world, he has something of an obligation to add his anti-Islamophobia to this mosque madness. W. needs to get his bullhorn back out.

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are both hyper-articulate former law professors. But Clinton never presented himself as a moral guide to the country. So when he weaseled around, or triangulated on some issues, it was part of his ultra-fallible persona — and consistent with his identity as a New Democrat looking for a Third Way.

But Obama presents himself as a paragon of high principle. So when he flops around on things like “don’t ask, don’t tell” or shrinks back from one of his deepest beliefs about the freedom of religion anywhere and everywhere in America, it’s not pretty. Even worse, this is the man who staked his historical reputation on a new and friendlier engagement with the Muslim world. The man who extended his hand to Tehran has withdrawn his hand from Park Place.

Paranoid about looking weak, Obama allowed himself to be weakened by perfectly predictable Republican hysteria. Which brings us to Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich fancies himself an intellectual, a historian, a deep thinker — the opposite number, you might say, of Sarah Palin.

Yet here is Gingrich attempting to out-Palin Palin on Fox News: “Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington.” There is no more demagogic analogy than that.

Have any of the screaming critics noticed that there already are two mosques in the same neighborhood — one four blocks away and one 12 blocks away.

Should they be dismantled? And what about the louche liquor stores and strip clubs in the periphery of the sacred ground?

By now you have to be willfully blind not to know that the imam in charge of the project, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is the moderate Muslim we have allegedly been yearning for.

So look where we are. The progressive Democrat in the White House, the first president of the United States with Muslim roots, has been morally trumped by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, two moderate Republicans who have spoken bravely and lucidly about not demonizing and defaming an entire religion in the name of fighting its radicals.

Criticizing his fellow Republicans, Governor Christie said that while he understood the pain and sorrow of family members who lost loved ones on 9/11, “we cannot paint all of Islam with that brush.”

He charged the president with trying to turn the issue into a political football. But that is not quite right. It already was a political football and the president fumbled it.

What White Supremacy, Islamophobia, and the Racist Attacks on President Obama Have In Common


How truly demented and psychotically racist millions of white Americans actually are can easily be gleaned from this insane article alone and the sheer evil madness that it portrays. "Misperceptions?" "Misperceptions"??? Can you believe that this bizarre idiotic word is actually being used to describe what in blatant reality is nothing more than a pure visceral example of the doctrine of white supremacy at it's absolute worst? This is what makes these people so utterly dangerous to themselves and all "others." The word is RACISM you cretins not "misperceptions"...



In Defining Obama, Misperceptions Stick
August 18, 2010
New York Times

WASHINGTON — Americans need only stand in line at the grocery checkout counter to glimpse the conspiracy theories percolating about President Obama. “Birthplace Cover-Up,” screams the current issue of the racy tabloid Globe. “Obama’s Secret Life Exposed!”

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Members of the Tea Party movement in San Francisco questioned the president's birthplace in a May protest.

The article claims, without proof, that Mr. Obama uses a phony Social Security number as “part of an elaborate scheme to conceal that he is not a natural-born U.S. citizen.” Despite evidence to the contrary from Obama aides — they posted his birth certificate, from Hawaii, on the Internet during his presidential campaign — polls show that as many as one quarter of Americans still believe Mr. Obama was born outside the United States.

Now comes fresh evidence of misperceptions about the president taking root in the public mind: a new poll by the Pew Research Center finds a substantial rise in the percentage of Americans who believe, incorrectly, that Mr. Obama is Muslim. The president is Christian, but 18 percent now believe he is Muslim, up from 12 percent when he ran for the presidency and 11 percent after he was inaugurated.

The findings suggest that, nearly two years into Mr. Obama’s presidency, the White House is struggling with the perception of “otherness” that Candidate Obama sought so hard to overcome — in part because of an aggressive misinformation campaign by critics and in part, some Democratic allies say, because Mr. Obama is doing a poor job of communicating who he is and what he believes.

The president’s recent comments on the controversy over whether to build an Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero in Lower Manhattan have most likely intensified suspicions about him. Yet the Pew survey, completed before Mr. Obama spoke out in favor of the right of Muslims to build the center, shows that misperceptions were building even before then.

“This is an expression of the people who are opposed to Obama having an increasingly negative view of him,” said Andrew Kohut, the Pew center’s director.

But Mr. Kohut also said the numbers reflected that Mr. Obama had “not made religion a part of his public persona” as much as he did during his presidential campaign — so much so that even his own supporters are confused.

Among Democrats, for example, just 46 percent said Mr. Obama was Christian, down from 55 percent in March 2009, two months after he took office. As to the issue of his birthplace, a CNN poll released this month when the president turned 49 found that 27 percent of Americans doubted he was born in the United States. A New York Times/ CBS News poll in April put the figure at 20 percent.

The White House has at times seemed to throw up its hands at the so-called birther conspiracy. “We don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what to do about people that don’t think the president was born here,” Robert Gibbs, Mr. Obama’s press secretary, said in April.

But Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, said aides did work hard to push back against misinformation in a news media environment in which “the tweets of discredited rabble-rousers have as much credence to many as the pronouncements of the paper of record.”

Some allies say the White House could be doing a better job. Mr. Obama spoke out about his faith during his 2008 campaign — he had little choice amid controversy over his former pastor, Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. — and pleased Christian voters by having the evangelical preacher Rick Warren deliver the invocation at his inauguration.

“This is a president who gave really compelling speeches about faith and values, memorable stuff,” said the Rev. Dr. David P. Gushee, a professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University who has advised Mr. Obama on religious matters. “And you’re not hearing that voice right now.”

The White House says the public — and the press — are not listening. Since taking office, Mr. Obama has given six speeches either from a church pulpit or addressing religion in public life — including an Easter prayer breakfast where he “offered a very personal and candid reflection of what the Resurrection means to him,” said Joshua DuBois, who runs the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

But the Easter address attracted scant attention in the news media. And the fact that the Obama family has not joined a church in Washington — the president has said his presence would be too disruptive — has not helped, because the public rarely sees images of them attending services.

The White House says Mr. Obama prays daily, sometimes in person or over the telephone with a small circle of Christian pastors. One of them, the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, who was also a spiritual adviser to former President George W. Bush, telephoned a reporter on Wednesday, at the White House’s behest. He said he was surprised that the number of Americans who say Mr. Obama is Muslim is growing.

“I must say,” Mr. Caldwell said, “never in the history of modern-day presidential politics has a president confessed his faith in the Lord, and folks basically call him a liar."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Abbey Lincoln, 1930-2010: Groundbreaking Singer, Songwriter, Actor, and Activist


Abbey Lincoln was an iconic cultural figure and one of the most important and creatively profound singers--and later songwriters--of the past half century. Belonging to an elite and exclusive pantheon of truly original and innovative song stylists and expressive vocal artists in the Jazz tradition like such towering and legendary figures as Billie Holiday (1915-1959), Sarah Vaughan (1924-1990), Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996), Betty Carter (1929-1998), Dinah Washington (1924-1963), and Nina Simone (1933-2003), Lincoln (born Anna Marie Wooldridge) was an extraordinary and highly gifted individual who not only excelled as a singer and songwriter (and painter) but was also a very fine actress. She was also a deeply committed and progressive social activist who with her late husband the legendary Jazz drummer and composer Max Roach (1924-2007) played a pivotal and dynamic role in the radical African American political and cultural movements of the 1960s and '70s. To say that Lincoln's magnificent and lasting contributions will be sorely missed is a great understatement. She was simply one of the short list of absolutely major and indispensable American artists of our time and like her phenomenal mentors and contemporaries in music, acting, and the visual arts her legacy has been and will continue to be felt wherever great art is being created and shared in this society and culture...


Abbey Lincoln, Bold and Introspective Jazz Singer, Dies at 80

August 14, 2010
New York Times

Abbey Lincoln, a singer whose dramatic vocal command and tersely poetic songs made her a singular figure in jazz, died on Saturday in Manhattan. She was 80 and lived on the Upper West Side.

Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
Singer-composer Abbey Lincoln at her home in Manhattan in 2002.

Cinerama Releasing
Ms. Lincoln in the 1968 film “For Love of Ivy.”

Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos
Ms. Lincoln, 1991.

Her death was announced by her brother David Wooldridge.

Ms. Lincoln’s career encompassed outspoken civil rights advocacy in the 1960s and fearless introspection in more recent years, and for a time in the 1960s she acted in films, including one with Sidney Poitier.

Long recognized as one of jazz’s most arresting and uncompromising singers, Ms. Lincoln gained similar stature as a songwriter only over the last two decades. Her songs, rich in metaphor and philosophical reflection, provide the substance of “Abbey Sings Abbey,” an album released on Verve in 2007. As a body of work, the songs formed the basis of a three-concert retrospective presented by Jazz at Lincoln Center in 2002.

Her singing style was unique, a combined result of bold projection and expressive restraint. Because of her ability to inhabit the emotional dimensions of a song, she was often likened to Billie Holiday, her chief influence. But Ms. Lincoln had a deeper register and a darker tone, and her way with phrasing was more declarative.

“Her utter individuality and intensely passionate delivery can leave an audience breathless with the tension of real drama,” Peter Watrous wrote in The New York Times in 1989. “A slight, curling phrase is laden with significance, and the tone of her voice can signify hidden welts of emotion.”

She had a profound influence on other jazz vocalists, not only as a singer and composer but also as a role model. “I learned a lot about taking a different path from Abbey,” the singer Cassandra Wilson said. “Investing your lyrics with what your life is about in the moment.”

Ms. Lincoln was born Anna Marie Wooldridge in Chicago on Aug. 6, 1930, the 10th of 12 children, and raised in rural Michigan. In the early 1950s, she headed west in search of a singing career, spending two years as a nightclub attraction in Honolulu, where she met Ms. Holiday and Louis Armstrong. She then moved to Los Angeles, where she encountered the accomplished lyricist Bob Russell.

It was at the suggestion of Mr. Russell, who had become her manager, that she took the name Abbey Lincoln, a symbolic conjoining of Westminster Abbey and Abraham Lincoln. In 1956, she made her first album, “Affair ... a Story of a Girl in Love” (Liberty), and appeared in her first film, the Jayne Mansfield vehicle “The Girl Can’t Help It.” Her image in both cases was decidedly glamorous: On the album cover she was depicted in a décolleté gown, and in the movie she sported a dress once worn by Marilyn Monroe.

For her second album, “That’s Him,” released on the Riverside label in 1957, Ms. Lincoln kept the seductive pose but worked convincingly with a modern jazz ensemble that included the tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins and the drummer Max Roach. In short order she came under the influence of Mr. Roach, a bebop pioneer with an ardent interest in progressive causes. As she later recalled, she put the Monroe dress in an incinerator and followed his lead.

The most visible manifestation of their partnership was “We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite,” issued on the Candid label in 1960, with Ms. Lincoln belting Oscar Brown Jr.’s lyrics. Now hailed as an early masterwork of the civil rights movement, the album radicalized Ms. Lincoln’s reputation. One movement had her moaning in sorrow, and then hollering and shrieking in anguish — a stark evocation of struggle. A year later, after Ms. Lincoln sang her own lyrics to a song called “Retribution,” her stance prompted one prominent reviewer to deride her in print as a “professional Negro.”

Ms. Lincoln, who married Mr. Roach in 1962, was for a while more active as an actress than a singer. In 1964 she starred with Ivan Dixon in “Nothing but a Man,” a tale of the Deep South in the 1960s, and in 1968 she was the title character opposite Mr. Poitier in the romantic comedy “For Love of Ivy,” playing a white family’s maid. She also acted on television in guest-starring roles in the ’60s and ’70s.

But with the exception of “Straight Ahead” (Candid), on which “Retribution” appeared, she released no albums in the 1960s. And after her divorce from Mr. Roach in 1970, she took an apartment above a garage in Los Angeles and withdrew from the spotlight for a time. She never remarried.

In addition to Mr. Wooldridge, Ms. Lincoln is survived by another brother, Kenneth Wooldridge, and a sister, Juanita Baker.

During a visit to Africa in 1972, Ms. Lincoln received two honorary appellations from political officials: Moseka, in Zaire, and Aminata, in Guinea. (Moseka would occasionally serve as her surname.) She began to consider her calling as a storyteller and focused on writing songs.

Moving back to New York in the 1980s, Ms. Lincoln resumed performing, eventually attracting the attention of Jean-Philippe Allard, a producer and executive with PolyGram France. Ms. Lincoln’s first effort for what is now the Verve Music Group, “The World Is Falling Down” (1990), was a commercial and critical success.

Eight more albums followed in a similar vein, each produced by Mr. Allard and enlisting top-shelf jazz musicians like the tenor saxophonist Stan Getz and the vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson. In addition to elegant originals like “Throw It Away” and “When I’m Called Home,” the albums featured Ms. Lincoln’s striking interpretations of material ranging from songbook standards to Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.”

For “Abbey Sings Abbey” Ms. Lincoln revisited her own songbook exclusively, performing in an acoustic roots-music setting that emphasized her affinities with singer-songwriters like Mr. Dylan. Overseen by Mr. Allard and the American producer-engineer Jay Newland, the album boiled each song to its essence and found Ms. Lincoln in weathered voice but superlative form.

When the album was released in May 2007, Ms. Lincoln was recovering from open-heart surgery. In her Upper West Side apartment, surrounded by her own paintings and drawings, she reflected on her life, often quoting from her own song lyrics. After she recited a long passage from “The World Is Falling Down,” one of her more prominent later songs, her eyes flashed with pride. “I don’t know why anybody would give that up,” she said. “I wouldn’t. Makes my life worthwhile.”

Jazz singer, actress Abbey Lincoln dies at 80

Abbey Lincoln simplified her singing style. "It isn't about showing how good your voice is," she said. "It's about saying something." (Brad Barket/getty Images)

By Matt Schudel Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, August 15, 2010

Abbey Lincoln, a jazz singer and actress of unshakable integrity who transformed her image from that of a slinky chanteuse to an oracle of hard-won wisdom, died Aug. 14 in New York. She had been in precarious health since having open-heart surgery in 2007, but the precise cause of death could not be learned. She was 80.

Ms. Lincoln found early fame as a sex-kitten supper-club singer and made a cameo appearance in the campy 1956 teen film "The Girl Can't Help It," starring Jayne Mansfield. After meeting and later marrying jazz drummer Max Roach, she became one of the first entertainers to make civil rights and racial pride an overt cause. She was a noted film actress in the 1960s, then retreated to obscurity before staging a remarkable comeback in the 1990s as a singer, songwriter and spiritual elder.

"Certain people inside the African-American experience . . . act as griots, bearers of the culture," singer Cassandra Wilson told Newsweek magazine in 1992. "Paul Robeson was something like that. And so is she."

Soon after making "The Girl Can't Help It," in which she appeared in a sparkly dress previously worn by Marilyn Monroe, Ms. Lincoln abandoned her come-hither style and the form-fitting gowns that went with it. She even burned the dress in an incinerator, she said, as a symbol of personal emancipation.

She stopped straightening her hair and in 1959 released one of her most memorable early albums, "Abbey Is Blue." In 1960, she and Roach made the then-radical recording "We Insist! Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite," which has been called the first outright protest album. It included Roach's thundering drums and Ms. Lincoln's occasional shrieks and moans, representing oppression and hardship.

"That was one of the most thrilling experiences I ever had," the album's producer, Nat Hentoff, said Saturday. "Everything was at a high level of intensity."

Other critics, however, derided Ms. Lincoln for introducing a political element to jazz, and her opportunities to record began to dwindle. Turning to acting, she starred with Ivan Dixon in the 1964 racial drama "Nothing But a Man" and as a maid opposite Sidney Poitier in "For Love of Ivy" (1968). The films were among the first Hollywood depictions of mature, loving relationships between black women and black men.

After her eight-year marriage to Roach ended, Ms. Lincoln spent the 1970s caring for her mother in Los Angeles. She taught acting, traveled in Africa and concentrated on writing songs. In the early 1980s, she settled in New York and returned to performing, with a distinctly fresh approach.

"I don't scream anymore," she said. "I sing about my life."

She drew inspiration from one of her idols, Billie Holiday, paring her singing to an unembellished minimum. Unlike many jazz singers, Ms. Lincoln indulged in little improvisation or scatting, the singing of wordless syllables in rapid sequence.

"I learned from Billie," she told The Washington Post in 2006. "It isn't about showing how good your voice is. It's about saying something."

Lacking the elastic vocal range of her early years, Ms. Lincoln found a new emotional depth in such later recordings as "The World Is Falling Down" (1990), "Devil's Got Your Tongue" (1993), "A Turtle's Dream" (1995) and "Who Used to Dance" (1996).


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Her 1991 album, "You Gotta Pay the Band," featured original songs as well as a haunting rendition of the 1930s standard "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" The recording gained much of its lyrical poignancy from some the final performances of saxophonist Stan Getz, who died of cancer soon after.

"Stan helped save my career," Ms. Lincoln said in 1999. "Whenever a great musician works with you, it's an endorsement."

Ms. Lincoln performed at the Kennedy Center during the 2006 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival and released her final album, "Abbey Sings Abbey," in 2007.

"She was always moving ahead," Hentoff said. "She had a presence. She was always so individual."

She was born Anna Marie Wooldridge in Chicago on Aug. 6, 1930, and grew up in rural Michigan as the tenth of 12 children. Drawn to music at an early age, she moved to Los Angeles at 19 and modeled her early career after Lena Horne.

From 1952 to 1954, she performed in Honolulu under the stage name Anna Marie, then returned to Los Angeles, where she adopted the name Gaby Lee. In 1956, she came up with Abbey Lincoln -- a combination of Westminster Abbey and Abraham Lincoln.

After meeting Roach in 1957, Ms. Lincoln became friends with other jazz musicians, including Thelonious Monk, who encouraged her in her first efforts as a songwriter.

Ms. Lincoln spent more than a month in a psychiatric hospital after her divorce from Roach in 1970 and never remarried. Survivors include two brothers and a sister.

In 1990, Ms. Lincoln returned to acting with a small role in Spike Lee's "Mo' Better Blues" but had mixed feelings about the film and about black artists who held African American life up to ridicule. She was particularly critical of Michael Jackson and his physical transformation: "He's brilliant; he can sing and dance in the tradition of his African ancestors, but he curses them by erasing them from his face and hair."

In her later years, through her majestic performances and her uncompromising integrity, Ms. Lincoln came to be seen as something of the guiding conscience of jazz.

"Sing a song correctly," she said, "and you live forever."

Jazz singer championed civil rights ABBEY LINCOLN, 1930 - 2010
by Keith Thursby
August 15, 2010
Los Angeles Times

Abbey Lincoln, an acclaimed jazz singer, songwriter and actress who evolved from a supper-club singer into a strong voice for civil rights, has died. She was 80.

Lincoln died Saturday in a nursing home in New York, said Evelyn Mason, her niece. No cause was given, but she had been in failing health.

Lincoln built a career as an actress and singer in the late 1950s through the turbulent 1960s, then stepped away during the 1970s and, years later, returned to prominence as a singer praised for her songwriting abilities.

"There was a passion to what she did," said jazz critic Don Heckman, who noted that Lincoln's songwriting made her a rarity among jazz singers. "She was not someone who was just singing a song. She had an agenda, and a lot of it had to do with civil rights.... She expressed herself in dramatic and impressive fashion in what she said and how she sang."

Her voice was a "special instrument, producing a sound that is parched rather than pure or perfect," wrote the New York Times' Peter Watrous in 1996. "But her limitations infuse her singing with honesty. More important, she understands the words she sings, declaiming them with a flare of memory that seems to illuminate all the lost love and sadness people experience."

She was often compared to Billie Holiday, one of her early influences. Times jazz writer Leonard Feather, writing after a Lincoln performance in 1986, said he could see glimpses of Holiday. "Not so much vocally as visually -- a slight toss of the head, a jutting of the jaw," he wrote. "As Lincoln said, 'We all stand on the shoulders of those who preceded us.' "

And Lincoln made an impact on the next generation.

"She opened up doors, not just in the sense of career possibilities but as empowerment to be myself when I sang," singer Cassandra Wilson told the Wall Street Journal in 2007.

Lincoln was born Anna Marie Wooldridge on Aug. 6, 1930, in Chicago, the 10th of 12 children. The family soon moved to rural Michigan.

She moved to California in 1951 and performed in local clubs, then spent two years singing in Honolulu before coming back to Los Angeles. And she became Abbey Lincoln, inspired by Westminster Abbey and Abraham Lincoln. Her manager, songwriter Bob Russell, thought of the name.

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Lincoln had a role in the 1956 film "The Girl Can't Help It," in which she wore a dress once worn by Marilyn Monroe. The appearance, coupled with her first album, "Abbey Lincoln's Affair: A Story of a Girl in Love," gave her a glamorous image. That
changed when she started working with jazz drummer Max Roach, whose music would reflect the coming civil rights struggle. They married in 1962.

"I started out being a sexy young thing in a Marilyn Monroe dress," she told The Times in 2000, "And Max Roach freed me from that." The 1960 release "We Insist! Freedom Now Suite" included Lincoln's wordless, sometimes screaming duet with Roach and was a landmark musical statement of the civil rights movement. Lincoln "was like an OK supper singer," critic and producer Nat Hentoff told The Times in 1993. "Then I went down to the Village Gate here in New York where Max and she were doing the 'Freedom Now Suite.' It was just extraordinary, the power of it." Critics were divided. "We all paid a price, but it was important to say something," she told the Wall Street Journal in 2007. "It still is." Movie roles followed, including "Nothing But a Man" in 1964 and "For Love of Ivy" in 1968, in which she starred with Sidney Poitier. Lincoln "was a really gifted person and a truly wonderful actress. She was the kind of person you expected to live forever," Poitier told The Times on Saturday. "She was gifted in so many ways. She was quite productive, and it was quite rewarding for those of us who heard her sing and watched her act."

Lincoln and Roach divorced in 1970, and she returned to California to "cleanse her spirit," she told The Times in 1993. She taught at what is now Cal State Northridge, did some television work and performed only occasionally.

Her career took off again in the late 1980s, with works including two 1987 albums paying tribute to Holiday.

Living in New York, she moved to the Verve Music Group and had commercial and artistic success with "The World Is Falling Down" in 1990 and "You Gotta Pay the Band" in 1991, in which she performed with saxophone great Stan Getz.

Her final new release was "Abbey Sings Abbey" in 2007.

Lincoln is survived by brothers David and Kenneth Wooldridge and a sister, Juanita Baker.

We Must Fight and Defeat All Forms of Intolerance Toward Muslim American Citizens!


The brazen, racist, and typically demagogic hysteria of the far rightwing that is presently "guiding" the tyrannical ideological and political direction of the Republican and Tea Party in this country is using the most outrageous forms of religious intolerance and sheer hatred to spew its inhumane rhetoric at Muslim American citizens who are trying to build an Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan, New York in the general vicinity of Ground Zero--site of the heinous 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001. While to his credit President Obama did intitially firmly point out last week that religious freedom is an integral part of the Constitution and thus must not be violated (and then the very next day opportunistically avoided saying that he personally supported the actual building of the center in New York) it is equally clear that so far very few individuals from the Democratic Party leadership have been willing to publicly stand up to the dangerous insanity of the far right on this issue for fear of "alienating" those Americans who are themselves not tolerant of the humanity and constitutional rights of their fellow citizens who practice Islam. In an eloquent response to this calculated madness masquerading as patriotism and sympathy for the actual victims of the 9/11 attacks the outstanding political journalist and TV news broadcaster Keith Olbermann comments directly on the so-called (fake) "controversy" surrounding the Ground Zero situation and the many other incidents of similar intolerance throughout the country-- which are also being fueled by the slimy likes of such vicious national political demagogues as Newt Gingrich, David Vitter, and Andrew Breitbart (notorious 'dirty tricks' video inventor of the Shirley Sherrod episode).


Across Nation, Mosque Projects Meet Opposition

Mike Blake/Reuters
Residents in Temecula, Calif., protested against a mosque’s proposed worship center.

Published: August 7, 2010
New York Times

While a high-profile battle rages over a mosque near ground zero in Manhattan, heated confrontations have also broken out in communities across the country where mosques are proposed for far less hallowed locations.

In Murfreesboro, Tenn., Republican candidates have denounced plans for a large Muslim center proposed near a subdivision, and hundreds of protesters have turned out for a march and a county meeting.

In late June, in Temecula, Calif., members of a local Tea Party group took dogs and picket signs to Friday prayers at a mosque that is seeking to build a new worship center on a vacant lot nearby.

In Sheboygan, Wis., a few Christian ministers led a noisy fight against a Muslim group that sought permission to open a mosque in a former health food store bought by a Muslim doctor.

At one time, neighbors who did not want mosques in their backyards said their concerns were over traffic, parking and noise — the same reasons they might object to a church or a synagogue. But now the gloves are off.

In all of the recent conflicts, opponents have said their problem is Islam itself. They quote passages from the Koran and argue that even the most Americanized Muslim secretly wants to replace the Constitution with Islamic Shariah law.

These local skirmishes make clear that there is now widespread debate about whether the best way to uphold America’s democratic values is to allow Muslims the same religious freedom enjoyed by other Americans, or to pull away the welcome mat from a faith seen as a singular threat.

“What’s different is the heat, the volume, the level of hostility,” said Ihsan Bagby, associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky. “It’s one thing to oppose a mosque because traffic might increase, but it’s different when you say these mosques are going to be nurturing terrorist bombers, that Islam is invading, that civilization is being undermined by Muslims.”

Feeding the resistance is a growing cottage industry of authors and bloggers — some of them former Muslims — who are invited to speak at rallies, sell their books and testify in churches. Their message is that Islam is inherently violent and incompatible with America.

But they have not gone unanswered. In each community, interfaith groups led by Protestant ministers, Catholic priests, rabbis and clergy members of other faiths have defended the mosques. Often, they have been slower to organize than the mosque opponents, but their numbers have usually been larger.

The mosque proposed for the site near ground zero in Lower Manhattan cleared a final hurdle last week before the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg hailed the decision with a forceful speech on religious liberty. While an array of religious groups supported the project, opponents included the Anti-Defamation League, an influential Jewish group, and prominent Republicans like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker.

A smaller controversy is occurring in Temecula, about 60 miles north of San Diego, involving a typical stew of religion, politics and anti-immigrant sentiment. A Muslim community has been there for about 12 years and expanded to 150 families who have outgrown their makeshift worship space in a warehouse, said Mahmoud Harmoush, the imam, a lecturer at California State University, San Bernardino. The group wants to build a 25,000-square-foot center, with space for classrooms and a playground, on a lot it bought in 2000.

Mr. Harmoush said the Muslim families had contributed to the local food bank, sent truckloads of supplies to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and participated in music nights and Thanksgiving events with the local interfaith council.

“We do all these activities and nobody notices,” he said. “Now that we have to build our center, everybody jumps to make it an issue.”

Recently, a small group of activists became alarmed about the mosque. Diana Serafin, a grandmother who lost her job in tech support this year, said she reached out to others she knew from attending Tea Party events and anti-immigration rallies. She said they read books by critics of Islam, including former Muslims like Walid Shoebat, Wafa Sultan and Manoucher Bakh. She also attended a meeting of the local chapter of ACT! for America, a Florida-based group that says its purpose is to defend Western civilization against Islam.

“As a mother and a grandmother, I worry,” Ms. Serafin said. “I learned that in 20 years with the rate of the birth population, we will be overtaken by Islam, and their goal is to get people in Congress and the Supreme Court to see that Shariah is implemented. My children and grandchildren will have to live under that.”

“I do believe everybody has a right to freedom of religion,” she said. “But Islam is not about a religion. It’s a political government, and it’s 100 percent against our Constitution.”

Ms. Serafin was among an estimated 20 to 30 people who turned out to protest the mosque, including some who intentionally took dogs to offend those Muslims who consider dogs to be ritually unclean. But they were outnumbered by at least 75 supporters. The City of Temecula recently postponed a hearing on whether to grant the mosque a permit.

Larry Slusser, a Mormon and the secretary of the Interfaith Council of Murietta and Temecula, went to the protest to support the Muslim group. “I know them,” he said. “They’re good people. They have no ill intent. They’re good Americans. They are leaders in their professions.”

Of the protesters, he said, “they have fear because they don’t know them.”

Religious freedom is also at stake, Mr. Slusser said, adding, “They’re Americans, they deserve to have a place to worship just like everybody else.”

There are about 1,900 mosques in the United States, which run the gamut from makeshift prayer rooms in storefronts and houses to large buildings with adjoining community centers, according to a preliminary survey by Mr. Bagby, who conducted a mosque study 10 years ago and is now undertaking another.

A two-year study by a group of academics on American Muslims and terrorism concluded that contemporary mosques are actually a deterrent to the spread of militant Islam and terrorism. The study was conducted by professors with Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy and the University of North Carolina. It disclosed that many mosque leaders had put significant effort into countering extremism by building youth programs, sponsoring antiviolence forums and scrutinizing teachers and texts.

Radicalization of alienated Muslim youths is a real threat, Mr. Bagby said. “But the youth we worry about,” he said, “are not the youth that come to the mosque.”

In central Tennessee, the mosque in Murfreesboro is the third one in the last year to encounter resistance. It became a political issue when Republican candidates for governor and Congress declared their opposition. (They were defeated in primary elections on Thursday.)

A group called Former Muslims United put up a billboard saying “Stop the Murfreesboro Mosque.” The group’s president is Nonie Darwish, also the founder of Arabs for Israel, who spoke against Islam in Murfreesboro at a fund-raising dinner for International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

“A mosque is not just a place for worship,” Ms. Darwish said in an interview. “It’s a place where war is started, where commandments to do jihad start, where incitements against non-Muslims occur. It’s a place where ammunition was stored.”

Camie Ayash, a spokeswoman for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, lamented that people were listening to what she called “total disinformation” on Islam.

She said her group was stunned when what began as one person raising zoning questions about the new mosque evolved into mass protests with marchers waving signs about Shariah.

“A lot of Muslims came to the U.S. because they respect the Constitution,” she said. “There’s no conflict with the U.S. Constitution in Shariah law. If there were, Muslims wouldn’t be living here.”

In Wisconsin, the conflict over the mosque was settled when the Town Executive Council voted unanimously to give the Islamic Society of Sheboygan a permit to use the former health food store as a prayer space.

Dr. Mansoor Mirza, the physician who owns the property, said he was trying to take the long view of the controversy.

“Every new group coming to this country — Jews, Catholics, Irish, Germans, Japanese — has gone through this,” Dr. Mirza said. “Now I think it’s our turn to pay the price, and eventually we will be coming out of this, too.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 15, 2010

An article last Sunday about the growing resistance to new and expanded mosques in the United States misidentified the sponsor of an event where Nonie Darwish, the founder of Arabs for Israel, spoke. The event, in Murfreesboro, Tenn., was sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, not by Christians United for Israel.