Angel Michelle Jenkins wants to sing and she needs your help. She has written a song in honor of her grandmother, “Queen of the Blues” vocalist Dinah Washington.
An Army veteran and single mother of three, Angel has struggled through much of her life in survival mode. After spending her childhood in and out of foster care, she joined the Army at age 17. In 1991 she was injured. Soon after, she received news that her 14-year-old brother Mario had been killed in a house fire. When she returned to military service in Germany in 1997, she suffered a second injury. Then, in 1999 tragedy struck again. Her homeless father, Dinah’s eldest son George Jenkins, was hit and killed by a train. He died December 9, 1999 at the age of 53 — eight years to the day after Angel lost her brother Mario.
Following a painful divorce in 2002, Angel started to write and sing music inspired by her grandmother’s legacy. After an honorable medical discharge from the Army in 2008, she headed to Nashville to pursue her dream. On her own, and with no connections in the music industry, she booked a series of nightclub gigs. Sadly, less than a year into her self-propelled career launch, a semi-truck collided with her car on the way to a performance. Her vehicle was totaled, and she suffered major injuries to her back and neck that put her music career on hold.
Despite being the granddaughter of one of the most successful blues artists of all time, Angel has never had the means or opportunity to fully pursue her own musical dreams. The following brief history of her grandmother’s legacy might help explain why.December 1969:
Six years after her death, Dinah’s 7th husband (of only 6 months) sold her entire catalog of 447 songs for $25,000 when they were worth millions.1993:
Dinah was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
June 16, 1993:
The United States Postal Service honored Dinah with a stamp as a Legend of Rhythm & BluesJanuary 1994:
Angel’s father, George, walked into an entertainment lawyer’s office in Chicago to ask how he could be broke and homeless when his mother was on a postage stamp.1996:
Dinah’s estate was awarded royalties for 66 of her 447 songs. The first settlement payment of $60,321 barely covered legal fees and taxes.2012:
Angel became partial heir to Dinah’s estate. Unfortunately, “What A Difference A Day Made,” Dinah’s most popular, Grammy-winning song, was not among the 66 tunes reclaimed by Dinah’s family in the lawsuit, and the payments for her eligible songs were not retroactive.
After years of recovery and spiritual guidance, things are finally turning around for Angel. She’s now a consultant and associate producer on a biopic in development about her grandmother. In my role as spearhead of this project, I’ve worked with Angel over the past few years and have discovered that she has never had the benefit of professional guidance. In gratitude for the support I have received from film industry friends, I would like to pay it forward by helping Angel access the opportunities and funds she needs to follow her passion and record the original song she has written about her grandmother: “Queen of the Blues.” With her permission, I share the lyrics to the chorus:
They called you Queen of the Blues
No one can sing em’ quite like you
But to me you’ll always be Grandma too
Angel’s passion for music is undeniable, but she has never had access to voice lessons. That’s why I’m asking for your support to help cover the cost of six weeks of training with an award- winning Nashville vocal coach, who will help Angel prepare and record the original song she wrote in honor of her grandmother. The total cost for the endeavor is $11,900 ($2900 for vocal lessons and $9000 for studio time, mix technicians, musicians, mastering, and production).
This August 29th would have been Dinah’s 95th birthday. Angel would like to release the song before Christmas, Dinah's favorite holiday.
Angel feels she was meant to sing the blues and wants to make her grandmother proud, so thank you in advance for taking the time to read her story — and to consider supporting her on this journey.
Angie Lee Cobbs
Donations can also be mailed and made out to: Rolling Fork Productions, Inc
165 Court Street, Ste 101
Brooklyn, NY 11201#helpdinahsangelsing