Sing The Truth
@ the Barbican Centre
5 July 2011
Click an image to enlarge.
Angelique Kidjo, Dianne
Reeves and Lizz Wright perform
together in a passionate new production honouring the great women
of jazz, r&b, gospel and the blues.
Dianne Reeves biography
Blue Note recording artist Dianne Reeves is renown
for her improvisational prowess and unique jazz and R&B styling,
Reeves was awarded the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for
three consecutive recordings—a Grammy first in any vocal category.
Dianne Reeves was born in Detroit, Michigan 1956.
She grew up in Colorado and attended the University of Colorado
in the mid 70’s. Trumpeter Clark Terry invited Reeves to perform
in his band after spotting her singing at a National Association
of Jazz Educators convention. Reeves would continue to perform in
Clark’s band for several years while continuing her education
at the University of Colorado. After completing her studies she
relocated to Los Angeles to concentrate on her career. She worked
as a studio artist, recording with Lenny White, Stanley Turrentine,
and Alphonos Johnson. She also began working with Billy Childs,
developing a musical relationship that would continue for a decade.
In the late Seventies Reeves performed with the group Night Flight.
In 1981 Reeves auditioned for and won a spot with
Sergio Mendes' world tour group. A year later she recorded her debut
album “Welcome to My Love” (produced with Billy Childs).
Welcome to My Love included many of Reeves’ own compositions
including “Better Days”," which entered the jazz
In the mid 1980’s Reeves began working with
Harry Belafonte. Though she had already honed her jazz pop fusion
styling, her performances with Belafonte would encourage her to
expand her musical repertoire. She has credited Belafonte for her
introduction to the rhythms of West Africa and the West Indies.
Reeves continued this exploration by experimenting with music from
Brazil and Cuba, as well as venturing into the rhythms of early
African-American folk music such as field hollers and slave songs.
In 1986 Reeves formed a trio with Billy Childs. They would perform
at clubs and venues throughout the United States. It would take
just a year, and a Grammy-nominated performance at the “Echoes
of Ellington” concert for Reeves to be signed to the renowned
Blue Note Label. Her much celebrated self titled 1987 album would
include personnel such as George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard,
Tony Williams, Paulinho da Costa and Stanley Clarke.
Reeves added R&B component to her next album
“Never Too Far” (1989) led her to an even wider audience,
but jazz purists were beginning to question her choice of material
and direction. In 1991, “I Remember” was released to
rave reviews from her newfound fans and Jazz purists alike.
Reeves appeared and performed in George Clooney’s
Academy Award nominated film “Good Night, and Good Luck”.
The soundtrack recording of “Good Night, and Good Luck”
provided Reeves her fourth Best Jazz Vocal Grammy in 2006. In 2007
Reeves was featured in a documentary on the life of Billy Strayhorn.
Further Reeves releases would raise questions
as well as acclaim, but there is no doubt that Reeves’ popularity
continues to grow across the globe. Reeves has firmly established
herself as a versatile reliable performer who not only produces
consistent explorative quality recordings, she also continues to
surprise and shine in a live environment.
Angelique Kidjo biography
Angelique Kidjo was born in Cotonou, Benin, July
14 1960. Her first performing experience was as a six year old actor-dancer
in her mother’s theatre troupe. From that point on, music
became her sole passion. As a teenager, Kidjo was inspired to write
songs by the sounds of Hendrix, Santana, Miriam Makeba, Fela Kuti,
James Brown, the Beatles and Aretha Franklin; before her twentieth
birthday she was one of Benin’s few professional female vocalists.
Difficulties with the political environment in
her homeland, prompted Kidjo to relocate to Paris. Thriving in the
city’s African music underground, she progressed from singer
of Jasper van’ hof ‘s fusion band Pili Pili, to leader
of her own band within five years. Established as one of Paris’s
top live acts, Kidjo was quickly discovered by Chris Blackwell and
signed on Mango. Today, Angelique Kidjo is a bonafide global phenomenon
whose performances are always legendary events.
Kidjo’s style of music varies from afro-funk,
reggae, samba, salsa, gospel, jazz, Zairean rumba, souk and makossa
which combined together creates her soulful unique sound of music.
As well as being a Goodwill Ambassador with Uniceff
since 2002, Kidjo has worked with Oxfam for their Fair Trade Campaign
and founded the Batonga Foundation which gives girls a secondary
school and higher education so they can take the lead in changing
Lizz Wright biography
Lizz Wright hails from Hahira, South Georgia. Both
her parents were ministers. Her father (a pastor) eventually formed
his own church. Apart from his regular duties, he also contributed
to the church musically by serving as pianist and musical director.
He would encourage Lizz to absorb as much as the church could offer.
As you may imagine, her childhood was definitely not ‘rule
free’: no sports, no television, no pants, no designer pantyhose
and no short hair!
Despite such a strict upbringing, Wright somehow
managed to maintain an open mind. In high school she sang with the
choir and won many competitions. She also attended Georgia State
in Atlanta to study voice at professional level. Wright gained further
experience performing at jazz nightclub Churchill Grounds. In 2000
Wright joined the much talked about In The Spirit jazz group. Two
years later she signed with the Verve record label.