There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Vocalist Baby Washington never had any pop hits in her ’60s prime, but she recorded a string of R&B chart-makers that have charmed soul-music fanatics around the world. Born in Bamberg, S.C., and raised in New York, Washington is associated with the polished uptown soul sound. Like fellow uptowners Ben E. King, the Drifters, and the Shirelles, this church-educated singer made her mark singing to sophisticated arrangements that included large string sections as well as guitar, bass, and drums. While such orchestrated R&B can sound bland in the wrong hands, Washington and her fine studio musicians kept enough passion and rawness in the mix to keep her recordings exciting. Hailed by Dusty Springfield as her favorite singer, Washington hit her peak with the 1963 single “That’s How Heartaches Are Made.” Her earthy lead vocal narrates a tale of rejection but remains emotionally strong, the composition alternating her deep tone with a sweet-voiced female chorus. Washington continued to have modest success through the late ’60s, but has done little recording since. Now 59, the singer performs on the oldies circuit, opening for legends like Johnnie Taylor and Clarence Carter, or headlining herself, as she does tonight with the Unique Creation Band and Jimmy Bennet & Lady Mary opening. At 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7, at the Chateau, 3439 Benning Road NE. $20. (202) 399-0106. (Steve Kiviat)