Rita Brown and Dakota Staton, two vocalists with both stylistic and personal ties to the late Dinah Washington, will perform in the District next week.
Brown, who was discovered by Blanche Calloway at Washington's former Crystal Caverns in 1949, will open at Blues Alley Tuesday for a week's run. Her program will include "This Bitter Earth" and several other songs associated with Dinah Washington. The Friday and Saturday performances will be taped for a "Live at Blues Alley" album.
Brown told of the time in the early '50s when Dinah Washington acknowledged her presence in the audience of New York's Birdland and called her up to the bandstand to do a number. "When it was over she said to me, 'Well, I didn't tell you to go up there and try to be stealin' my scene.' It was in a friendly way, though, and over the years we did become very, very good friends."
Staton calls Washington her "idol" and says this about the well-known tempestuous nature of the late singer, whose best-known song was "Evil Gal Blues":
"She was a very straightforward person, very truthful and very deep and had a lot of wisdom through her experiences."
Was she misunderstood? "No, she wasn't misunderstood by the people who knew what she had to deal with. Consistent with her straightforwardness and honesty, she only gave what she received."
Staton, who traveled with Washington and often appeared here in the '50s and '60s at the Howard Theater, will be featured Saturday night at 8 in Charlin Jazz Society's "Dakota Sings Dinah" at 7750 16th St. NW. For information call 484-1697.