actress and singer
Died: January 12, 2008 (Bronx, New York)
Best Known as: former jazz singer in Count Basie's band
A singer, actress, and bandleader who toured and recorded with Count Basie’s band. Reid grew up singing in her church choir in Georgia before moving to New York in 1947 to pursue a singing career. She won the Apollo Theater’s amateur contest several times and played with the Dick Vance band at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem for two years. Reid played with the Count Basie band for a year in 1961 before forming her own small group, Irene Reid and Company. The group recorded two albums with Verve records. Soon after, Reid landed a role as the wicked witch Evillene in Broadway’s “The Wiz.” After twenty years out of the business, Reid began recording again in 1997 and released the album “Million Dollar Secret.” She made six records in the last ten years of her life—more than she had produced in her career up until that time.