Monday, April 7
Kuumbwa Jazz Center
“…one of the best jazz singers working today.” – Jazz Journal
Although she didn’t begin her professional career until her early forties, vocalist René Marie has quickly climbed the ranks to become one of the most heralded singers on the scene today. Fiery and clever, Marie turned heads when she substituted new lyrics into “The Star-Spangled Banner” and continues her bold career with I Wanna Be Evil (With Love to Eartha Kitt), a tribute to the trailblazing vocalist/actress/writer, released on the Motema Music label. Marie’s remarkable range, independent streak, and powerful emotional resonance suit the material perfectly.
This new album burnishes Marie’s reputation as one of the more provocative risk-taker among today’s jazz divas. Featuring notable appearances by trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and trumpeter Etienne Charles, I Wanna Be Evil opens with a cackle of mischief before she tears into “I’d Rather Be Burned As A Witch”, a powerhouse song that immediately signals the melding of the spirits of these two audacious women. She changes gears dramatically with a sly arrangement of “C’est Si Bon”, one of Kitt’s signature songs. Lesser-known gems “Oh, John” and “Let’s Do It” follow suit and are imbued with sultry affection.
As Marie definitively puts it, “Eartha Kitt is one of America’s strongest iconic figures. She was an inspiring artist, a strong woman and an essential activist in different ways. She was homeless when she first moved to New York City, yet became a star. She was a sensual and powerful woman in a man’s world at a time when most women were background not front and center. She was a black actress in Hollywood at a time when most black actors were given subservient roles, yet here she was – Catwoman…She unabashedly shared her sensual self and her fierce self and was just herself – simply Eartha.”
Marie is also unabashedly herself, winning many fans for her audaciousness but also garnering her share of controversy. Her medley of “Strange Fruit” and “Dixie” wowed many but also stirred the pot on America’s history of slavery and Southern race relations. Her choice to sing the black national anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” (set to the melody of the “Star Spangled Banner”) when the Mayor of Denver, John Hickenlooper, asked Marie to open the 2008 State of the City address also raised tensions, yet René stood strong. Her daring makes her one of America’s most interesting and compelling artists, as her style incorporates a distinctly American mélange of jazz, soul, blues, folk, gospel and an innate theatrical ability to interpret a song deeply and live its truth.
DATE: Monday, April 7, 2014
VENUE: Kuumbwa Jazz Center
ADDRESS: 320 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
TIME: 7:00 PM
PRICE: $22/Adv $27/Door
TICKETS: Logos Books & Records, 1117 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz (831) 427-5100 and online at: http://kuumbwajazz.org
MORE INFO: http://kuumbwajazz.org or 831-427-2227
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