Lady Sings the Blues
Lady Sings the Blues
A tribute to women’s contributions to blues over the years
By Becca Newell
If you missed last November’s Modern Warrior Live—a theatrical music experience that told the tale of a soldier’s return to civilian life—you’re in luck. The musical mastermind behind the dynamic performance, jazz trumpeter Dominick Farinacci, returns to the Avalon stage on Friday, August 31st.
Modern Warrior Live wonderfully demonstrated Farinacci’s versatile horn stylings and mix of international rhythms, as well as his mastery of composition and knack for re-imagining familiar songs.
Kicking off the ninth annual Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, Farinacci will be joined by his Modern Warrior Live co-star, vocalist Shenel Johns. The two met a few years ago when he was in search of a vocalist during his residency as Global Ambassador to Jazz at the Lincoln Center in Qatar. Farinacci invited her to perform with him and has continued to include Johns in most of his shows ever since.
According to Farinacci, Johns’ incredible artistry was instantly recognizable from the moment she stepped on stage and sung her first note.
“I love vocalists who are storytellers, and who know how to bring you into their world through their voice, unique interpretation of a melody, and stage presence,” he says. “Because, ultimately, that’s what I try to do as an instrumentalist.”
For those unfamiliar with the powerful, yet graceful vocalist, Johns is known for distinctive, eclectic style that sways effortlessly from jazz to R&B to gospel.
Their performance, aptly named “Lady Sings the Blues,” will focus on women’s contributions to the blues over the years. Audience members can expect to hear selections by Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Nina Simone, and more, Farinacci says.
The two premiered the retrospective at Woodstock Playhouse, New York, a couple of months ago, meaning their performance in Easton will only be the second time it’s been on stage!
“I’m excited about [that],” Farinacci says. “I think our take on women in the blues will be a little different than what you might expect.”
He’s also excited about returning to Easton, a place he refers to fondly as his “second musical home.” And though he’s performed a few times at the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, he still says it’s surreal to play at a festival under Alexander’s name—and even more surreal to sometimes join him on stage!
“To actually play with him is quite awesome, to say the least,” Farinacci says. “[Monty Alexander] was always, and still is, a larger-than-life legend.”
Don’t miss “Lady Sings the Blues” with Dominick Farinacci and Shenel Johns at 8 p.m., Friday, August 31st, at the Avalon Theatre in Easton. Tickets are $45/reserved and $25/balcony. Festival passes available. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit JazzontheChesapeake.com.
The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival is partially underwritten by the Maryland State Arts Council and the Talbot County Arts Council. Jazz on the Chesapeake is a program of Chesapeake Music.