But as time passes, shamefully, she discovers she is pregnant. But who is the father? Of course, the girls in the town gossip about her until one of the suitors takes responsibility. And then, there is a happy ending with a white wedding. The only thing that was subtle about this performance was the lighting by Melody Beale, occasionally changing color and intensity. A dding quality to the performance were the especially fine guest artists, Famoro Diabate who played a xylophone-like instrument, Wunmi on the drum, and Missia Diabate whose strong, vibrant voice filled the auditorium.
The Brooklyn-based Asase Yaa Cultural Arts Foundation is the source of the dance touring company, which has been performing all over the world for the last 18 years. Perhaps the highlight of the evening was the appearance of boy drummers whose fierceness no doubt was motivated by the Zulu warriors mentioned on their tee shirts.
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This dance troupe is firmly inspired by folk tradition. Their homespun quality is not an example of a ballet or modern dance version of African dancing, but the spirit-lifting movement of a community working together. There was hooting and hollering from the audience, sounding like they were at a rock concert, but it was impossible not to get caught up in the enthusiasm. The general raucousness was a display of the clear delight that the audience enjoyed. It created an atmosphere of unbridled joy and who could resist? Everyone was smiling and laughing and clapping.
The performance was a fund raiser, and surprisingly, people literally threw money onto the stage, and sometimes jumped onto the stage to stick a bill onto the sweaty brow of a favorite performer. As much as what was happening on the stage was the total experience which was just so much fun!
The atmosphere in Symphony Space on February 2 was like that of a school concert, where the audience is filled with friends and family proudly watching their loved ones perform. At Drum Love, everybody became friends and family the minute they stepped through the door. There was a response of such visceral delight to the entire production, beyond anything suggested by the mere description in the program. She becomes pregnant and initially fears shame, but she eventually discovers that her family will support her regardless.
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A classic tale of love and acceptance — nothing revolutionary, right? But the way the performers, through music and dance, delivered that tale — as a force of unity, as an exhibition of unwavering passion — made it extraordinary to witness.
No, not just to witness. To be a part of. He was also a noted bandleader and, in the early 40s, he helped to nurture the talents of rising beboppers Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. A prolific songwriter and also a playwright and an ardent Civil Rights activist, Chicago-born Brown tried his hand at being a lawyer, an advertising man and a soldier before becoming a singer and tunesmith in the 50s.
With a voice like the sonic equivalent of golden, drizzled honey, this native New Yorker with Croatian ancestry her real name is Jelena Milcetic went professional as a teenager and made an impression singing with Earl Hines in the early 50s before embarking on a glittering solo career. She remains much loved in Italy and Japan, where she lived for several years.
One of the best jazz singers among contemporary jazz, Chicago-born Elling made his debut album for Blue Note in and quickly established himself as name to reckon with. Able to scat and improvise with his voice like an instrumentalist, Elling is also an astute interpreter of standards and a writer of strong original material. She cut her first solo record in and, after that, never looked back. With her almost twee, little-girl-like timbre, New York-born Blossom Dearie her real name possessed one of the most delicate voices among this list of best jazz singers.
She made her name as part of a vocal group, The Blue Stars, based in Paris in the 50s, before striking out on her own. A prolific recording artist, Dearie was also a noted songwriter and, in the 70s, started her own record label, Daffodil. A veritable one-man voice orchestra. It was at the independent Bethlehem label, though, in , where Connor made her solo breakthrough. Two years later she joined Atlantic Records, where she stayed until and arguably produced her best work.
Renowned for the ranginess of his voice, which could morph from a throaty baritone to a soaring tenor, Rushing possessed a rough-textured tone and, in terms of volume, could sing with a big band without being drowned out. Carter is noted for her breathy, nuanced delivery, spontaneous scatting skill and ability to get inside a lyric.
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One of the prime architects of the vocalese style, this elastic-voiced Ohio singer has been dubbed The James Joyce Of Jazz for the ingenuity and wordplay of his lyrics. Unique among the best jazz singers, Simone originally dreamed of becoming a concert pianist in the classical music world. Possessing a husky, expressive contralto voice, Simone had the ability to make everything she sang sound like a personal statement from the depths of her soul.
Harlem-born McRae was an able pianist as well as a spectacular singer. Like many of the best jazz singers of the post-war era, her prime vocal influence was Billie Holiday, whose rubato, behind-the-beat phrasing she borrowed, though she established her own, instantly recognisable style early on. McRae rose to fame in the 50s and was renowned for her supple voice and putting an ironic twist on lyrics.
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The only one of our 50 best jazz singers of all time to be born in the 19th Century, Chattanooga-born Smith was dubbed The Empress Of The Blues in the 20s, when she became one of the highest-paid African-American entertainers. Possessing a powerful, strident voice with a growling quality in her lower notes, Smith recorded with early jazz stars Louis Armstrong and Fletcher Henderson.
Both Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington cited her as a major influence. Scott first made his mark in the 40s but, by the 60s, had fallen into obscurity. He made a triumphant comeback in the 90s, which helped to cement his place in the pantheon of all-time best jazz singers. One of those rare singers whose identity can be recognised from just singing a single note, Lee a farm girl born Norma Delores Egstrom, in Jamestown, North Dakota perfected the art of sensuous minimalism. From Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Ruth Jones is better known as Dinah Washington, a dynamic singer whose tart delivery and perfect diction had a profound influence on many of the best jazz singers who followed her, including Esther Phillips and Nancy Wilson.
Nicknamed Sassy or The Divine One, this New Jersey singer was famed for having a four-octave voice that was opulent in tone and texture, yet also light and supremely agile with a feathery, tremulous vibrato. A sublime talent and a hugely influential singer. Born Eleanora Fagan in Philadelphia, Holiday whose nickname was Lady Day started singing in the big-band era but her unique tone and timbre soon conferred on her solo stardom, and she went on to influence almost every other female on this list of the best jazz singers of all time.
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Nathaniel Adams Cole was a superb jazz pianist, though he built his fame as a pop vocalist whose velvety pipes were caressingly smooth on the ear. In his heart, though, he was a committed, dyed-in-the-wool, jazz man. The incomparable Chairman Of The Board himself, Frank Sinatra started as a bobby soxer teen idol in the 40s and got his break singing with the bands of Harry James and then Tommy Dorsey. His career received a boost when he signed to Capitol Records in , where he reinvented himself as a sophisticated swinger who phrased his vocals like a jazz horn player, and whose repertoire drew on The Great American Songbook.
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