Los Angeles jazz legend Barbara Morrison, who performed on a pair of Grammy-nominated albums, produced another and founded a performing arts theater and jazz/blues museum in Leimert Park, died Wednesday at age 72.
Morrison’s friend, Cathy Segal-Garcia, who began a GoFundMe page in early March when Morrison was hospitalized for cardiovascular disease, wrote on the page Wednesday that Morrison was a “warrior to the end.”
“It is our feeling that rather than struggle with what was sure to be a really uncomfortable life for her from here on, it was her blessed time to go,” she wrote.
The page had raised more than $13,000 as of Wednesday night, and the funds will be used in part to cover funeral expenses.
“We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of jazz & blues legend Barbara Morrison,” the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz posted on its Twitter page Wednesday afternoon. “She mentored our college program vocalists & many of our students have performed with her. A pillar in the music community, she founded (the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center) & California Jazz & Blues Museum in Leimert Park.”
During a 60-plus-year career, the Detroit native performed with some of jazz music’s biggest names, including Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, Kenny Burrell, Hank Crawford, Nancy Wilson, Mel Tormé and Ray Brown. She also sat in with the Count Basie Orchestra and Doc Severinsen’s Big Band.
According to the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, where she served as an adjunct professor of global jazz studies, she performed at Carnegie Hall, toured Europe with Ray Charles and sang at the North Sea, Bern and Playboy jazz festivals.
She began performing at age 10 in Michigan, and over the course of her career appeared on more than 20 recordings, two of which earned Grammy nominations. Her Blue Lady Records was nominated in 1999 as producer of Al McKibbon’s album “Tumbao Para Los Congueros Di Mi Vida.”
The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs mourned her passing, calling her an “LA treasure.”
“The jazz & blues vocalist & director of the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center in Leimert Park leaves a deep legacy of song, creativity & community giving. May her memory continue to inspire us.”