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Happy Birthday Abbey!

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Lawrence N. Shustak, photographer. Portrait of Abbey Lincoln. Photograph, ca. 1960s. Max Roach Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.

Today marks the birthday of singer, songwriter, actress, and political activist Abbey Lincoln (Anna Marie Wooldridge August 6, 1930 – August 14, 2010).

One of many singers influenced by Billie Holiday, she made her breakthrough in 1956 with her first recording, Abbey Lincoln’s Affair, and her appearance in the film The Girl Can’t Help It. Though she continued to work as an actress, appearing in films such as Nothing But a ManFor Love of Ivy, and Mo’ Better Blues, she devoted the rest of her career to music. She worked with Max Roach on civil rights projects, such as We Insist! The Freedom Now Suite, and later recorded as leader and composer of her own works.

There are Abbey Lincoln photos, letters and business papers in the Music Division’s Max Roach Collection, as well as in an explanation of her significance offered during an interview with Harvard University jazz scholar Ingrid Monson.


  1. i heard on of my big homies singing on the radio about a week or two, and as luck would have it, Abbey Lincoln in Mo’ Better Blues made me tear up a bit for the relative character seemed to be just as i recalled my first non urban positive roll model in my young adult coming of age segment(s) a friend i picked and found myself with no other influences. Thanks for the commitment you have made to the entertainment industry

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