Singer Dee Dee Bridgewater among 2017 NEA Jazz Masters

NEW YORK (AP) — Singer Dee Dee Bridgewater says she’s proud to be among the few women to be awarded the nation’s highest jazz honor.

The National Endowment for the Arts announced Monday night during a DC JazzFest concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington that Bridgewater was among five 2017 NEA Jazz Masters.

The other honorees include the British-born bassist and composer Dave Holland; pianist Dick Hyman, the soundtrack composer for more than a dozen Woody Allen films; Hammond B3 jazz organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, known for his classic soul jazz albums, and jazz historian and writer Ira Gitler, who was recognized for his jazz advocacy.

Bridgewater, a Grammy and Tony award winner, told the NEA that she “fought long and hard” to gain respect “in the male-dominated jazz world.”

Only 19 of the 145 Jazz Masters chosen since 1982 are women.

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