From humble beginnings to painstaking struggles and ultimately heroic triumphs, the jazz life of Sheila Jordan could inspire an epic play with a challenging lead to cast. Blessed with a haunting voice that is at once innocent and worldly, the animated jazz legend nicknamed Lady Bird shares the same birthday as Mickey Mouse. Sheila Jeanette Dawson was born on November 18, 1928 in Detroit to unwed teenagers. As a toddler she was sent to live with her grandparents in Summerhill, a poverty-stricken coalmining town in rural Pennsylvania.
“I lost a lot of self-esteem as a kid,” Sheila recalls. “Being one of the two poorest families in town, we were always hounded in this coal mining area. There was a lot of alcoholism in the family. My grandfather was an alcoholic and most of the kids in the family turned out to be alcoholics, including me, but not at that time…”