Barbara Dane (born May 12, 1927) is an American folk, blues, and jazz singer. "Bessie Smith in Stereo," wrote jazz critic Leonard Feather in the late 1950s. Time said of Dane: "The voice is pure, rich... rare as a 20 karat diamond" and quoted Louis Armstrong's exclamation upon hearing her at the Pasadena jazz festival: "Did you get that chick? She's a gasser!"
Barbara Dane's parents arrived in Detroit from Arkansas in the 1920s. Out of high school, Dane began to sing regularly at demonstrations for racial equality and economic justice. While still in her teens, she sat in with bands around town and won the interest of local music promoters. She got an offer to tour with Alvino Rey's band, but she turned it down in favor of singing at factory gates and in union halls.
Moving to San Francisco in 1949, Dane began raising her own family and singing her folk and topical songs around town as...