Her godmother Dema Aikens entered young Ernestine in a talent contest at the age of 12 in Houston, Texas. And she won. Soon she started to play with Quincy Jones and Ray Charles before she was 18. She continued to work with Lionel Hampton, Gigi Gryce, and Johnny Otis. After her debut “It’s Time For Ernestine”, recorded in Sweden in 1956, the album was re-released in the US under the title “Hot Cargo” in 1958.
Ernestine moved to England for a couple of years in the sixties due to lack of work at home and by the mid-70s, her second career started, first on Concord Records where she put out the wonderful “Hello Like Before” in 1977 and where she stayed for about 15 years, and then later with Qwest where she recorded with Stix Hooper, and then HighNote, where she put out a couple of outstanding albums, like “A Song For You” in 2009 with Houston Person.
Ernestine’s warm voice witht the bluesy touch, had become even more intense during that particular recording which was made at Bennett Studios in New Jersey when the singer was already 79 years old. Like Will Friedwald says in the liner notes to the album: “…she gives you the song and its underlying emotion without a lot of folderol, as if to convey that Ms. Anderson,…has even less time than before for unnecessary decoration.”
Ernestine Anderson died in peace, surrounded by her family, in Shoreline, Washington last Thursday at the age of 87.