The Lady Swings

Memoirs of a Jazz Drummer
Author: Dottie Dodgion and Wayne Enstice
Foreword by Carol Sloane
Scenes from a jazz life
Cloth – $110
Paper – $22.95
eBook – $14.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 03/29/2021
Cloth: 03/29/2021
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About the Book

Dottie Dodgion is a jazz drummer who played with the best. A survivor, she lived an entire lifetime before she was seventeen. Undeterred by hardships, she defied the odds and earned a seat as a woman in the exclusive men’s club of jazz. Her dues-paying path as a musician took her from early work with Charles Mingus to being hired by Benny Goodman at Basin Street East on her first day in New York. From there she broke new ground as a woman who played a “man’s instrument” in first-string, all-male New York City jazz bands. Her inspiring memoir talks frankly about her music and the challenges she faced, and shines a light into the jazz world of the 1960s and 1970s.

Vivid and always entertaining, The Lady Swings tells Dottie Dodgion's story with the same verve and straight-ahead honesty that powered her playing.

About the Author

Dottie Dodgion is a trailblazing American jazz drummer. Wayne Enstice is a coauthor of Jazzwomen: Conversations with Twenty-One Musicians and Jazz Spoken Here: Conversations with Twenty-Two Musicians.


"A full portrait of the obstacles American women faced in the 20th century jazz scene . . . Dodgion's pull-no-punches style and determination in the face of daunting situations bring an obscure figure to vivid life." --Library Journal

"The Lady Swings is an entertaining and informative book, one that is easily recommended." --Syncopated Times

"An interesting book about an eventful life in music." --New York City Jazz Record

"The Lady Swings undulates as much with dynamic rhythm as it does with delicious drama and laugh-out-loud storylines." --JazzTimes

"Written in a breathtaking, breezy narrative that takes the reader on a musical journey that is reflected as if in the mirror of Ms Dodgion’s life itself. . . . This is what makes the book so exciting: the mere fact that you will discover a musician who gave – and continues to give – her life to the music she fell in love with as a child and one who remains its guardian, keeping the flame aglow even in the sunset of her life." --JazzdaGama

"A compelling tale of a groundbreaking person from a memorable time in American cultural history." --FraNoi

"A swinging tale that is more than a fascinating footnote in the annals of jazz." --Kirkus

"This highly readable history says much about the demands upon someone determined to be a performer. . . . This book also contains an audio companion illustrating Dodgion's insufficiently celebrated playing, and she certainly knows how to tell a story, musically and verbally. " --Jazzwise

"Dodgion had a fascinating story to relate. She and Enstice produced a book that flows naturally and always maintains the reader's interest." --Jersey Jazz

"The Lady Swings belongs on the short list of essential jazz autobiographies." --All About Jazz


"A pioneering woman in jazz and swinging drummer, Dottie Dodgion played with some of the great musicians of her time. She has a unique story to tell."--Quincy Jones

"When I first caught Dottie Dodgion in action I was bowled over. I didn’t hear a great female drummer but a truly great jazz drummer, period, able, as you’ll be happy to learn from the story she tells with such insight, humor, and complete honesty, to please both Charles Mingus and Wild Bill Davison. The lady's words swing as hard as her ride cymbal, and will keep your foot tapping all the way through."--Dan Morgenstern, Director Emeritus, Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University

"Dottie Dodgion not only takes you on a dizzying ride through her incredible life, she teaches you some of the great secrets of jazz and unmasks the archaic attitudes toward female musicians that have marginalized great talents like hers. What a wonderful journey she’s had. What a wonderful book this is!"--Judy Chaikin, director and cowriter of The Girls in the Band

“A unique and important contribution to the history of jazz."--Dee Spencer, composer, performer, educator


• A Variety Best Music Book of 2021
• Honored during the "In Memoriam" segment of the Grammy Awards, 2022
• Certificate of Merit, Best Historical Research in Recorded Jazz, ARSC Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections, 2022
• Finalist, Book of the Year About Jazz: Biography and Autobiography, Jazz Journalists Association (JJA), 2022

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