Biography

In the liner notes of Pinky's 2002 recording, Rain Sometimes, legendary vocalist Carol Sloane writes:


Pinky Winters
Photo by
David Bartolomi

Through no fault of your own, you may be unfamiliar with the work of Pinky Winters, but with resolute confidence in the exquisite music contained on this disc, I believe you will join the hundreds of musicians and other singers who have been her staunchest admirers for many years, in spite of the fact that so few of her precise interpretations have been heretofore readily available. This is a voice which will enchant you for now and evermore.

When asked about her early influences, she unhesitatingly remembers the time when she was fifteen years old and living in Indiana, she heard Sarah Vaughan for the first time. With a jolt of comprehension, her devotion to singing was etched indelibly because that experience helped seal her fate, so to speak, setting a standard which she has consistently maintained. As Pinky describes the incident, hearing Sarah Vaughan was a true milestone for her, "making me realize that the only things worth singing were songs that touched me, made me feel alive and willing to strive to learn what I now call The Great American Songbook."

Pinky Winters recorded two albums in the 1950s ("Pinky" [1954] and "Lonely One [1959]), then married and retired from continuous music involvement in order to focus on her family. She was not heard from for over a decade, and then in 1979 she emerged, accepting engagements in the Los Angeles area with additional appearances in major US cities. However, her recordings did not resume until 1985, with the truly superb album called "Let's Be Buddies", sadly followed by another desert-dry period before "This Happy Madness" (Verve-France) became available in 1994. This quickly lead to "As Long As There Is Music" (Koch Jazz) with Netherlands Metropole Orchestra. An album exists called "Pinky and Zoot" (Norma Records) which includes tracks from the original 1954 "Pinky" LP as well as some jam session material not really up to today's digital standards in terms of sound quality. However, the music is joyous and high-spirited as only a jazz date with Zoot Sims could be. Today, all of these highly-prized recordings are avidly sought by collectors around the world, determined to acquire them at any price.


Drawn from Producer Bill Reed's interview with Pinky (click here for full interview):



Phyllis Wozniak was born in Michigan City, Indiana. Young Phyllis studied piano for twelve years as a child, starting at age "four, four-and-a-half. I gave my first concert when I was five."

a young Pinky in Michigan City, Indiana
A young Pinky - Michigan City, Indiana

Her first influence was..."Oh I loved listening to Frank Sinatra. As a kid I was crazy about him and got every record I could find... I listened to him on the radio. Then I loved Judy Garland. Give me a break! Loved her in the movies. Thought she was just so special and real." Pinky used to listen to Dinah Shore and the Andrews Sisters on her dad's wind-up Victrola. She fondly remembers one of the first Great American Songbook albums she owned was Ella Sings Gershwin with Ellis Larkins.

Following high school, Pinky worked for a few years in an office until her girlfriend said, "We gotta leave this town!" Off they moved to Denver in their Nash Rambler convertible.

Upon arriving in Denver, they went to a club called "Dante's Inferno" that had a band. Pinky's girlfriend asked the drummer (Shelly Rims) if her friend could sing. "Oh, ok, what's her name?" "Phyllis Wozniak." "WHAT?" "Well, it's really Pinky Winters." Pinky's stage name was born. The pianist that night was Dick Grove (who became one of the country's foremost jazz educators). Pinky took piano lessons from and performed in Denver with Dick.

Dick (and Pinky's first husband to be Jim Wolf [a bassist]) moved to Los Angeles and soon convinced Pinky to follow around 1953 where she settled in Manhattan Beach. In her early days in LA, Pinky worked with Stan Levey and Bud Lavin. She performed in a club on Western Avenue called "Starlight".

Pinky divorced Jim Wolf and got an office job to make money to raise her daughter. Eventually she met and married Bob Hardaway (who was on NBC staff as a saxophone/reeds player), had another daughter and happily raised her children in their lovely home in Hollywood Hills. During that time, she didn't sing for thirteen years.

1980 brought a return to the stage for Pinky. Lanny Morgan, the saxophone player, got Pinky back into the fray with a gig at Donte's. The piano player on the gig was Lou Levy. 1980 also brought a divorce from Bob Hardaway. Pinky self-assesses her life as "more straight-laced than not. I've been married twice, and (had) a relationship with (the late) Lou Levy (beginning in) 1982". Lou Levy, in addition to being a renowned pianist, spent the better part of his career as regular accompanist to three of the great voices of the century:
Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, and Ella Fitzgerald - and for the last couple of decades... Pinky Winters.

Rain Sometimes

In 1983, Pinky was invited by Joel E. Siegel to perform as part of the Great American Songwriters series at Washington, DC's Corcoran Gallery - a prestigious series that would feature such greats as Shirley Horn, Chris Connor, Mark Murphy, Carol Sloane, Blossom Dearie, Dave Frishberg and Sheila Jordan.

Pinky unabashedly now cites her favorite singer: "I'm crazy about Shirley Horn. I can't help it!" She also cites Al Cohn as "my hero".

Since her return to active performing, Pinky has enjoyed stellar recordings and continues to be featured in choice concert settings to the delight of her fans.