The Evening Continues with the Taste of Jazz Party Featuring Selecta, Hubb’s Groove, Kevin Howard and Jonathan Barber, Plus Food and Beverage Tastings Presented by Area Restaurants
Tickets Are On Sale Now at https://pittsburghjazzfest.org
PITTSBURGH, PA – The vivid and vivacious vocalist Ledisi was born in New Orleans with jazz, R&B, blues and gospel music in her veins. She honed those musical styles as a singer raised in Oakland, and is loved around the world, including in Pittsburgh, where she delivered a crowd-pleasing performance at last year’s Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival presented by Citizens (PIJF). This year, Ledisi returns to the 13th edition of the festival with Ledisi Sings Nina, her powerful, show-stopping tribute to the legendary vocalist/composer/pianist/activist Nina Simone on Friday, September, 15 at 8:00 pm, at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center (AWAACC), 980 Liberty Avenue. Tickets are available now at https://pittsburghjazzfest.org.
Following Ledisi’s performance will be the festival’s annual Taste of Jazz Party held at the AWAACC at 9:00 pm. The party features dancing, live music and performances by drummer Jonathan Barber, the popular Cleveland cover band, Hubb’s Groove, and local artists keyboardistKevin Howard and Selecta, spinning jazz and hip-hop classics in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the birth of hip-hop. The party also features a pleasing potpourri of food from 12 Pittsburgh restaurants: Braddock’s Rebellion, Nate’s Chop House, Chef Claudy Pierre, Taj Mahal, Over Eden and TRYP Hotel, Vallozzi’s, Eddie Merlot’s, Oaklander Hotel/Spirit and Tales, Emerson’s, Morton’s, Fogo de Chaoand Nosh & Curd.
Ledisi’s concert will include selections from her 2021 tribute recording Ledisi Sings Nina, which features the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and the Netherlands-based Metropole Orkest. The homage features songs Simone covered and composed, wonderfully rendered by Ledisi. The anthemic, Broadway standard “Feeling Good” beams with its bravura brass arrangement, contrasted by the bouncy, mid-tempo rendition of the Walter Donaldson/Gus Kahn hit, “My Baby Just Cares for Me.”
Ledisi channels Simone’s haunting and heartfelt readings of Jacque Brel’s “Ne Me Quitte Mas (Don’t Leave Me),” and Dimitri Tiomkin’s “Wild Is the Wind.” Her swinging remake of the Nat Adderley/Oscar Brown, Jr. jazz classic “Work Song” proves that Black lives mattered when Simone sang the song in the sixties. On the lone Simone composition, the spectrally-syncopated “Four Women,” Ledisi recounts the hardships and heroics of four Black women who endured the bitter-earthed horrors of racism, sexism, sexual abuse and the legacy of slavery. On Rudy Stevenson’s “I’m Going Back Home” you can hear Ledisi’s vocals dance and prance to the Crescent City second line parade rhythms.
Simone’s classically-trained pianism spanned Bach and the blues, and her vocals ranged from the most rarefied opera arias to the upper room residences of the Negro spirituals. As Ledisi remarks in the 2021 issue of Down Beat, recording Ledisi Sings Nina was her way to pay homage to an artist who inspired her to go on during a dark period in her life when she contemplated quitting everything. “It’s not like it’s just a record I decided to do,” Ledisi says. ”This has been a long relationship …”
That relationship with Simone inspired Ledisi to have a storied and star-studded career. She’s performed, recorded and toured with Robert Glasper, Terri Lyne Carrington, Herbie Hancock, Patti Austin, John Legend, Prince and many other artists. Her records as a leader include Lost & Found, The Wild Card, which earned her a Grammy Award in the Traditional R&B Performance category, and Live at the Troubadour. Her other honors include three Soul Train Music awards and an NAACP Theater Award. Ledisi’s vocals appear in the George Clooney directed filmLeatherheads and Miles Ahead starring Don Cheadle. She also portrayed the gospel icon Mahalia Jackson in the Oscar-nominated film,Selma, and in Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story. In addition, Ledisi was featured in Gabourney Sidibe’s Shatterbox Anthology film,The Tale of Four, and played Patti LaBelle in the hit BET series, American Soul.
Pittsburgh will hear Ledisi, not just singing the music of Nina Simone, but channeling the essence of Simone’s artistry to enrich her own. “I like to honor her by touching and agreeing on certain things she would do and incorporate, but I’m not trying to be her,” Ledisi stresses. “I want to be me while honoring her and that’s why I added all my modern twists and make sure I’m who I am because there is never going to be another Nina, ever.”
Tickets to the Ledisi concert and Taste of Jazz Party are $90 – $115, based on seating choice; ticket price for the Taste of Jazz Party only are $53. For more information and tickets, log on to https://pittsburghjazzfest.org.
The 13th Annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival presented by Citizens (PIJF) and produced by the August Wilson African American Cultural Center returns to AWAACC and Highmark Stadium September 14 – 17, 2023. In addition to Ledisi, featured artists include Gregory Porter, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Kurt Elling & Charlie Hunter, Nicholas Payton, Emmet Cohen with Houston Person, Orrin Evans, José James, PJ Morton, Somi, Keyon Harrold with special guests Pharoahe Monch and Mumu Fresh, Samora Pinderhughes, Madison McFerrin, Christie Dashiell, Chelsea Baratz, Howie Alexander and more.
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Special thanks to Citizens, PIJF Presenting Sponsor; Bacardi, Presenting Sponsor, Libation Station Tent; and Supporting Sponsors UPMC, UPMC Health Plan, P & W BMW and Mini of Pittsburgh, Highmark Health, AARP and Arsenal Cider House, Supporting Libation Sponsor.
CITIZENS FINANCIAL GROUP, INC.
Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is one of the nation’s oldest and largest financial institutions, with $226.7 billion in assets as of June 30, 2022. Headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, Citizens offers a broad range of retail and commercial banking products and services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, large corporations and institutions. Citizens helps its customers reach their potential by listening to them and by understanding their needs in order to offer tailored advice, ideas and solutions. In Consumer Banking, Citizens provides an integrated experience that includes mobile and online banking, a full-service customer contact center and the convenience of approximately 3,300 ATMs and more than 1,200 branches in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Consumer Banking products and services include a full range of banking, lending, savings, wealth management and small business offerings. In Commercial Banking, Citizens offers a broad complement of financial products and solutions, including lending and leasing, deposit and treasury management services, foreign exchange, interest rate and commodity risk management solutions, as well as loan syndication, corporate finance, merger and acquisition, and debt and equity capital markets capabilities. More information is available at www.citizensbank.com or visit on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.
The August Wilson African American Cultural Center is a non-profit cultural organization located in Pittsburgh’s cultural district that generates artistic, educational, and community initiatives that advance the legacy of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson. One of the largest cultural centers in the country focused exclusively on the African American experience and the celebration of Black culture and the African diaspora, the non-profit organization welcomes more than 119,000 visitors locally and nationally. Through year-round programming across multiple genres, such as the annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, Black Bottom Film Festival, AWCommunity Days, TRUTHSayers speaker series, and rotating art exhibits in its galleries, the Center provides a platform for established and emerging artists of color whose work reflects the universal issues of identity that Wilson tackled, and which still resonate today. www.awaacc.org.
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