Yet another great born on this day include the amazing vocalist/activist/songwriter/actress Abbey Lincoln. Her long career included tender ballads, fierce firespeak, protest music, screen acting and she was an inspiring presence on the scene for civil rights, creative music and powerful vocals.
From rural Michigan, the early '50s found her singing professionally in Los Angeles and Honolulu. She made her first record in '55 and one with Benny Carter the next year. A string of classics with Riverside and Candid came after, including Abbey Is Blue and Straight Ahead.
Starting in 1959 she worked with (and eventually married) Max Roach. She appeared on some of his records (and vice versa). Their We Insist! Freedom Now Suite is a crucial album, a soundtrack contribution to the civil rights movement. The 1960 album combines explicit race politics, protest, pan-Africanism, the emotional ups & downs of the struggle and some fiercely swinging music. That incredible document shows Lincoln as a powerhouse, and a pioneer in expressive pipe-blasting sounds. "Garvey's Ghost" on Max's Percussion Bitter Suite is another great one.
After doing some screen acting starting in the '50s, in the '60s she decided to focus on that. But frustration with small TV roles encouraged her to start composing in the '70s, releasing her comeback album People In Me and continuing forward with music, including tributes to her idol Billie Holiday. She worked with Cedar Walton and Archie Shepp, among a few others. A late stint with Verve kept her in the public eye until heart surgery slowed her down.