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DivaNation Showcases "A Sisterhood of Singers"

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By Nathea Lee

The Philadelphia Jazz Project set out to see what would happen if they brought together a diverse array of vocalists, created a nurturing environment where seasoned performers could mentor younger singers, and gave them all the opportunity to perform on one of the City's premier stages. The result is DivaNation, “a sisterhood of singers" whose jazz stylings range from feisty blues to neo-soul. The project was inspired by pianist Aaron Graves. Pianist/vocalist Dena Underwood and pianist/violinist Kendrah E. Butler are co-music directors. Vocalists include: Dena Underwood, Lotus Barron, Gretchen Elise, Liz Filantes, Ella Gahnt, Carol Harris, Barbara Montgomery, Bethlehem Roberson, and Jaye Sanders.

Over a period of six months, the talented divas met to share new work, performance techniques, and experiences. The project culminated with a series of performances at Drexel University's Mandell Theater.

These photos are from the second performance, which featured Carol Harris, Saudah Al-Akbar, Liz Falantes, Barbara Montgomery and Bethlehem Roberson. Kendrah E. Butler & Ensemble opened the set with Butler's original tune, “Instrumental Prelude-Diva Walk," which was arranged by Ella Gahnt.

The formidable ensemble included Bob Whitt (bass); Darryl Jackson (drums); Nasir Dickerson (saxophone); and Doc Gibbs (percussion).

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