Jean DuShon is a Detroit native. She started her career while still in her teens, winning amateur shows, but quickly got paying gigs at places like The Flame Showbar, Twenty Grand and the Frolics Showbar. Her style was very similar to the great Dinah Washington, who heard about "this gal who is trying to sing like me!" Jean quickly changed her style and sang it her own way with incredible results. She studied voice at the Detroit Conservatory and her reputation grew steadily. The famed John Levy, manager for Nancy Wilson, Ramsey Lewis, Dakota Staton, George Shearing and Joe Williams became her manager and she received many lucrative engagements throughout the country. Miss DuShon was brought to Atlantic Records after Ahmet Ertegun saw her perform at NY's Roundtable. He assigned young producer, Phil Spector to record her ("Talk to Me" and "Tired of Trying"). Later, she signed with Chess Records and recorded three albums, "Make Way for Jean DuShon," "You Better Believe Me" (with Ramsey Lewis) and "Feeling Good," conducted and arranged by the renowned Oliver Nelson (pictured below with DuShon), all of them a mixture of r & b and jazz.
While at Chess, DuShon recorded "For Once in My Life." This was the original recording of the song and was so good, it was picked as Spotlight Record of the Week by Detroit's WXYZ radio in 1966. It was destined to be a giant hit for Jean, but poor promotion by her record company stopped the momentum. Another version of why the record failed came from John Levy, in his new book, "Men, Women, and Girl Singers: My Life As a Musician Turned Talent Manager." He sited Berry Gordy, who had in his employ, the composer of the song (Ron Miller). Gordy later cut the song with Stevie Wonder and gave it a powerful promotional push. This loss for Jean DuShon was one of the great tragedies in music history.
She sang with Cootie Williams's Orchestra, Lloyd Price's Band and with Fats Domino, who took her to Las Vegas where she appeared at the Flamingo Hotel with him. During this period, Miss DuShon recorded the album, "The Fourth Dimension" with the great, Brother Jack McDuff in 1971. She also shared bills with Wes Montgomery, Ramsey Lewis and Cannonball Adderly. Jean appeared in clubs with comics, Nipsey Russell and Dick Gregory. Along the way, she worked in R & B with such stars as Etta James, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Big Mama Thornton, Screamin' J. Hawkins, Little Richard and T. Bone Walker, to name a few. She wowed audiences with her sexy and soulful singing at such venues as the Apollo and Howard Theatres. But she also appeared in the great concert halls like Philharmonic Hall in NY and Symphony Hall in Newark.
Jean DuShon later worked with Count Basie at the New Jersey Jazz Festival, Birdland in New York with Miles Davis and Sonny Stitt and headlined at such niteries as The Blue Note, The Village Gate (with Ray Charles) and Sign of the Dove, among many others.
Persuaded by actor, Dick Anthony Williams, she went into the theatre, first, off-Broadway in "Crystal Tree" and "Helen of Troy" and then to Broadway in "What the Wine Sellers Buy" (with Williams and Glynn Turman), "Bubbling Brown Sugar" (with Vivian Reed and Cab Calloway) and was called in from Paris to replace the ailing legend, Ruth Brown, prior to opening of the later Tony-nominated musical, "Blues in the Night" (co-starring Leslie Uggams). Each night, Jean brought the audience to its feet with her formidable singing of Bessie Smith's tragic, "Wasted Life Blues." Her performance garnered unanimous rave reviews from the New York critics.
Invited to replace Odetta as Bessie Smith in the long-running Chicago hit, "The Little Dreamer - A Nite in the Life of Bessie Smith," she remained with the show for over a year. Jean also filmed a TV special while in Illinois, "Precious Memories: Strolling Down Forty Seventh Street," for which she received an Emmy Award.
Miss DuShon toured the world in 1991 with a concert tour which included performances for Princess Grace of Monaco and King Hussein of Jordan. She appeared with Little Jimmy Scott and B.B. King in a blues show at one of President Bill Clinton's Inaugural galas in l992 and received a special, personal "thank you" from Hillary Clinton.
After ending up on the cutting room floor in the film, "Claudine" (1971), in which she played a prostitute, Jean returned to Hollywood in 2000 to make "Can't Buy Love" which is planned for a 2003 release. Still a fabulous singer and performer, she is preparing a one-woman blues show for the stage and is interested in recording soon again. Jean DuShon lives in New York City.
Contact Jean DuShon: firstname.lastname@example.org
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