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Blues Alley (1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20007, (202) 337-4141)
Wednesday, May 5, 2010; Sets At 8:00 & 10:00PM
To celebrate the paperback release of James Gavin’s acclaimed biography, Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne – one of Oprah’s Top 25 Summer Reads of 2009 – and to launch the new Verve CD, Lena Horne Sings: The M-G-M Singles Collection, Blues Alley will present the Washington DC premiere of this happening. STORMY WEATHER is a truly unique new concert presentation. STORMY WEATHER: THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF LENA HORNE combining live performances and Gavin’s narration to salute the musical legacy of Hollywood’s first African-American goddess, a true living legend.
The show unites two eminent jazz singers whom Horne inspired. REBECCA PARRIS, New England’s First Lady of Jazz, has won nine Boston Music Awards; her earthy voice and interpretive depth made her a favorite of Stan Getz, Carmen McRae, and Sarah Vaughan. With vibraphonist Gary Burton she shared a GRP CD, It’s Another Day, and a PBS special. PAULA WEST’s dusky contralto has been called “a thing of beauty” in Time Out New York; her engagements at Manhattan’s Algonquin Hotel have brought her annual raves in the New York Times, which calls her “a swinging pop-jazz sophisticate in the tradition of Lena Horne and Carmen McRae.” West has toured the world and appeared onscreen in Bicentennial Man (with Robin Williams) and Teknolust (with Tilda Swinton). Grammy-nominated musical director/pianist GEORGE MESTERHAZY was called “superb” in the San Francisco Chronicle; apart from years of work with West and Parris, he accompanied Shirley Horn in the last phase of her career. Mesterhazy has written stunning new arrangements of a dozen Horne trademarks, including “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Yesterday When I Was Young,” “Bein’ Green,” and “Stormy Weather.”
James Gavin’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, Vanity Fair, and the Huffington Post; his books include Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker. Stormy Weather (published by Atria Books/Simon & Schuster) was hailed as “definitive” by Vanity Fair; wrote Liz Smith: “[It] may just be one of the best biographies about show business, race, love, sex, and music ever written.” Gavin co-produced Verve’s new Horne CD – the first complete reissue of her historic work on the M-G-M label in the late ‘40s, during her reign at the “Dream Factory” of movie musicals. Horne went on to become a fabled nightclub seductress and civil-rights icon; in 1981 she opened the biggest one-woman smash in Broadway history, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music. Now 92 and in reclusion for years, Horne remains a towering role model; Janet Jackson, Halle Berry, and Alicia Keys are only three of the younger stars who revere her.