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 charts.
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 Africa.
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.