Ernestine Anderson, jazz and big band singer, was born in 1928 in Houston, Texas. She won a talent competition at the age of 12 with her gorgeous, versatile singing, and got her first professional gig with trumpeter Russell Jacquet's big band. At the age of 18, she left home to tour with the Johnny Otis big band. Two years later, she returned home, married and had children, but it didn't work out. Her parents, always supportive of her career, offered to care for the children temporarily. Ernestine joined the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, took to the road, and began to enjoy a successful career, eventually recording her first solo album, Hot Cargo in Sweden. She later returned to the US and secured a deal with Mercury Records. Hot Cargo was re-released Stateside in 1958 to rave reviews. Following this, Downbeat Magazine awarded her 'Best New Vocal Star', and her popularity rocketed.
After a three-year high, her contract with Mercury ended and Ernestine endured the
worst slump of her career. A contract dispute kept her from
recording for five years. She had trouble getting gigs at home, so toured Europe in an attempt to
revive her career, but on returning home in the late 1960s she found her kind of music had gone out of style, and there was still no work to be had. She quit singing, returned to her family, and took up Buddhism.
However, in the mid-seventies there was something of a trad jazz and swing revival, and Ernestine was offered a new deal with the Concord label, which she happily accepted.
Over the next 15 years Ernestine released 14 albums, performing worldwide with jazz stars such as pianists Gene Harris and George Shearing. She received several Grammy nominations, and set up her own jazz club. Although nearly eighty, she's still performing live, and running jazz vocal 'clinics' for promising youngsters.