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Canadian Heritage

Jackie Washington


JACKIE WASHINGTON (guitarist, pianist, singer) was born on November 12, 1919 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and passed away there on June 27, 2009. He is a legendary blues musician who has been singing on the Canadian musical scene since he was five years old when ‘The Four Washington Brothers’ began to entertain at Hamilton social functions. Later known as simply ‘The Washingtons’, the quartet performed throughout Southern Ontario during most of the 1930s.

Washington appeared intermittently in Hamilton and Toronto nightclubs throughout the ‘40s and ‘50s, but his career enjoyed a resurgence with the revival of folk and blues music in the ‘60s, and he began to be seen frequently in folk festivals and in coffee-houses all over Canada.

Possessing a repertoire of more than 1200 jazz and blues classics extending from the days of slavery to the present, Washington has known and worked with a staggering list of names including jazz giants Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, and Clark Terry; songwriters Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot; and blues men Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and Lonnie Johnson. In addition to appearing on recordings with many of them, Washington made several albums of his own, including ‘Where Old Friends Meet’ (Pyramid) with Mose Scarlett and Ken Whiteley. He currently has two albums in distribution on the Borealis label: "Keeping Out Of Mischief" and his latest release, "Midnight Choo Choo".

Jackie Washington’s incredible life has been the subject of a documentary, and he appeared in the film version of ‘Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave’. ‘Jackie Washington and Friends’ were featured in live concert in the “Sound of Toronto Jazz” Series at the Ontario Science Centre on December 4, 1994.

Recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Ontario Arts Council
1995 – inducted into the ‘Gallery of Distinction’ in Hamilton, Ontario