From this article:
Washington's fast, intense approach to life -- despite its ultimately fatal perils --rewarded her with rich material for her music. She "had a full, sophisticated attitude towards life that was reflected in the way she sang," music critic Ralph Gleason wrote shortly after her death. "Many singers on stage are merely little girls singing romantic songs. Dinah, like Carmen McRae and Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith, was a woman singing about life. And she made you believe."
Amen. That's what we want from artists, isn't it? We want them to make us believe.