Alice Jones

Born: 1905 Tuscaloosa, AL

Gospel Vocals, Piano Dinah Washington's mother

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame



Alice Jones, mother of late blues singer Dinah Washington, died Wednesday at South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest after a long illness. She was 87.

Mrs. Jones, a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., was a longtime resident of the West Side and west suburban Broadview. She moved to Chicago in 1928 with her husband, Ollie, and their 4-year-old daughter, Ruth Jones. The daughter went on to musical stardom in the 1940s as Dinah Washington.

Washington, who later became known as "Queen of the Blues," had hits with such songs as "What a Difference a Day Makes" and "This Bitter Earth." She died at age 39 in 1963.



he was born Ruth Lee Jones, on August 29, 1924, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  Her father, Ollie Jones, was a gambler and rarely at home, leaving her mother, Alice Williams Jones, to support her two children.  The young girl was often alone and lonely, complaining about it later in her life.  In 1928 the family moved to the south side of Chicago.  When the Great Depression hit soon thereafter, Ollie was again jobless.

Ruth and her mother both sang and played piano in their church, St. Luke’s Baptist Church, and the girl despite her youth was one of the best gospel singers in the choir.  When she was ten she began giving church recitals and throughout her grade school years the girl sang in many of Chicago’s churches.

At fifteen Ruth joined one of the major gospel singers, Sallie Martin, and she toured the gospel circuit with the Sallie Martin Gospel Singers.  But the teenager’s idol was Billie Holiday and she was increasingly attracted to secular music.   After she’d won a talent contest at 15 at Chicago’s Regal Theatre there was no stopping her.  She began sneaking out of her house to sing in local nightclubs, while telling her mother she was going to a church to sing – and this despite the fact that she was still underage and not legally allowed in nightclubs where liquor was served.

Sallie Martin offered little money to the young singer and in 1942 she opened at the Garrick Bar, where noted talent agent Joe Glaser (who represented Louis Armstrong, among others) heard her.  Glaser recommended her to Lionel Hampton, and Hampton hired her to sing with his band.


Ruth Lee Jones was born August, 1924, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; since the births of black babies frequently went unrecorded in the South, the exact date has been noted as August 8, August 22, and August 29. Her father, Oldie Jones, was a gambler who was frequently away from home. Her mother, Alice Williams Jones, worked as a domestic, which also kept her from spending much time with Ruth and her brother, Harold.





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