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Minneapolis jazz singer Doris Hines, 91, dies

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Doris Hines
Doris Hines, legendary Minnesota jazz singer, around 1968
Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Doris Hines was a jazz singer.

She started singing as a child — "The Lullaby of Broadway," Bessie Smith songs, jazz standards. Her grandmother was a church organist; her father, who died when she was very young, a trombonist. The foster homes she later lived in were never without music.

Hines didn't start singing professionally until she was 34 — until her six small children had grown. Her audiences would include Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and the patrons of many a 1960s New York nightclub. 

A jazz singer at heart, she branched into pop standards and the blues. Her youngest child, Gary, who leads the Grammy-winning vocal group Sounds of Blackness, told MPR News host Kerri Miller in 2005 that his mother was in near-constant song. "She has a song title for every situation," he said.

She took time off from singing for a while, but couldn't stay gone for long. She slowed down, but never retired.

Hines died Friday. She was 91.

Hines moved to Minnesota on Christmas Eve in 1963, and stayed. 

She performed in the Twin Cities at the Ordway, Penumbra and the Children's Theatre Company. She was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame. 

She sang all her life.

"Even as a child she had a tremendous voice," Gary Hines told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "Whether it was in church or on the street corner, people started hearing about this little girl with this huge voice."

Listen: Doris Hines and Gary Hines joined host Kerri Miller on Jan. 13, 2005, during MPR News' Midmorning show. 

Video: Doris Hines performs on tpt

Jan. 30, 1980

More Doris Hines performances from tpt