In the smash musical "Dinah Was", staged last fall at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and previously at Penumbra Theatre, Regina Marie Williams portrayed blues queen Dinah Washington with the sort of sultry intensity that makes married men fiddle with their wedding bands. Her follow-up CD, Regina is...The Songs of Dinah Washington, was celebrated by the likes of MPR jazz icon Leigh Kamman. It pulls you completely into a world of late nights and longing. It is best listened to around midnight, with a glass of whisky and an air conditioner. "I wanna be loved," Williams croons, and you believe her. Me too, baby. Me too. For Williams, though, it's mostly play-acting. Dinah Washington was married seven times and died at 39: Williams began dating her current (and only) husband at age 18 and prefers the smoothies at her local coffee shop to sloe gin. Heck, she got her professional start playing Count von Count in Sesame Street live! Later, she sang with the Grammy Award-winning SOUNDS of BLACKNESS and managed an FAO Schwarz toy store, where she was known for tackling shoplifters with the same no-holds-barred style that has come to define her vocals. Williams's ability to inhabit a larger-than-life personality such as Dinah Washington has now won her a series of singing roles in Guthrie Theater productions, including CROWNS, OEDIPUS, and SHE LOVES ME. Most recently, she understudied Angela Bassett's role in HIS GIRL FRIDAY. But the multi-talented performer isn't neglecting the music that got her there. She'll reprise her blues numbers during a solo singing gig at the Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant on September 16 and 17. And there is talk of taking Dinah Was on tour. It seems audiences and critics agree, as Washington once sang, "Baby you've got what it takes."


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When A Woman Loves A Man CD

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The Capri Theater Minneapolis, Nov 2011

With Phil Nusbaum

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