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Stephanie Jordan, Germaine Bazzle, Betty Shirley featured in Jazz Journey concert with Virginia native Rene Marie

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The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation presents a Jazz Journey concert featuring the legendary song stylist Rene Marie, along with three of New Orleans' greatest female jazz singers: Germaine Bazzle, Stephanie Jordan and Betty Shirley.

The concert takes place on Friday, Jan. 13, at Dillard University's Lawless Memorial Chapel in New Orleans, Louisiana. Admission is free. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the show starts promptly at 7:00 p.m.

René Marie, the award winning singer and Virginia native whose style incorporates elements of jazz, soul, blues and gospel, has quickly become a heroine to many; a woman of great strength exuding stamina and compassion; often explaining how finding her voice and self through singing gave her the courage to leave an abusive marriage. But since the release of her recording debut, Renaissance, this Colorado based heroine has also evolved into one of the greatest and most sensuous vocalists of our time. Unmistakably honest and unpretentious while transforming audiences worldwide with her powerful interpretations, electrifying deliveries and impassioned vocals—René Marie has drawn a legion of fans and music critics who find themselves not only entertained, but encouraged and even changed by her performances.

With her latest release Voice of My Beautiful Country (Motema Music), listeners will hear her trademark vocals but will also be struck by the wide variety of songs that she interprets. During the course of the album, Marie brings her personal touch to everything from Motown to Tin Pan Alley to “America the Beautiful." But Voice of My Beautiful Country is much more than a demonstration of Marie's eclectic musical tastes; it is an ambitious celebration of Americana and the cultural diversity of these United States. . . .

Rene Marie has received several awards throughout her career including Best International Jazz Vocal CD (besting Cassandra Wilson and Joni Mitchell) by the Academie Du Jazz (Paris, France) and has graced the Billboard Charts multiple times propelling her to headliner status at major festivals in the US & abroad including the prestigious Women In Jazz festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Spoleto festival in Charleston, SC, the Edinburgh Jazz Festival (Scotland), Shanghai Jazz Festival (China) among many others.

Stephanie Jordan, whom critics have placed in the company of Nancy Wilson and Diana Krall, had this written about her Kennedy Center performance by the Washington Post, “Contributing intimate and thoroughly enjoyable interludes were . . . A poised, soulfully articulate vocalist, Jordan turned in a performance that warmly evoked the influence of Abbey Lincoln, Shirley Horn, Carmen McRae and other jazz greats."

Jordan has performed the national anthem alongside Grammy Award winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis at the 2008 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans. She has appeared live on NPR Talk of the Nation; featured performer at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Chicago's Harris Theater, The Setai South Beach, Marians Jazzroom in Bern, Switzerland; St Croix Blue Bay Jazz Fest, Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge, Duke Ellington Festival, Washington D.C., Chicago JazzFest Heritage; Glenwood Springs, Co., Adagio's Jazz Club in Savannah, Hayti Heritage Center Durham, Sweet Lorraine's New Orleans and is a regular at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Stephanie is a member of the New Orleans Magazine Jazz All-Stars and has served as a 'Jazz Ambassadors' for the U.S. Department of State. The Washingtonian Magazine labeled her “JAZZHOT."

Stephanie Jordan just concluded taping a movie video soundtrack for Lee Daniels' upcoming 2012 production of “The Paperboy" which co-stars Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, and John Cusack among others. Recognized internationally, the Sud Ouest French publication calls Jordan “unbelievably superb;" the London Monthly Herald declares, “Ms. Stephanie Jordan in her silk green dress catches your eyes. She reminds me of the flashy dashy days of Josephine Baker at the Lido in Paris, the author referred to Jordan as “The classy lady of modern Jazz!"

When Germaine Bazzle—New Orleans' “First Lady of Jazz"—steps on a stage she's not simply fulfilling the role of a singer, she becomes a member of the band. Like an instrumentalist, she explores jazz melodically, through her hot scatting and by mimicking instruments such as the trumpet and trombone. Most agree that if it weren't for her dedication to teaching—she's been at it for some 50 years—she'd be renowned far beyond the city limits.

Bazzle, “One of the true legends of New Orleans jazz . . . On par with R&B queen Irma Thomas, her voice in jazz is as distinctive as any, with a sweet soul to match. Her exploits singing in the Seventh Ward are unmatched, but she has been known primarily as a teacher. Influenced by the greats like Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billy Eckstein, she took on a repertoire of classic jazz, American popular songs, show tunes, and the music of Duke Ellington. Sounds of the church were never far behind, and she sang regularly on Sundays with the Saint Louis Catholic Choir. A graduate of Xavier University, Bazzle chose to stay at home, instructing mostly young girls in choir and music appreciation at Xavier Prep . . . , “writes Michael G. Nastos.

Ms. Bazzle has performed with such jazz greats as Alvin “Red" Tyler, Peter “Chuck" Badie, Victor Goines, bassist/vocalist, George French, pianist Ellis Marsalis, Emile Vinnette, Larry Siebert, David Torkanowsky and many more. Germaine can be heard on her CD entitled “Standing Ovation."

Jazz Vocalist extraordinaire, artist and teacher Betty Shirley has come full circle in her life and is now reaping the benefits of her hard-earned endeavors. The Times Picayune declares ..."her range and command of the stage make Shirley's a voice that should be heard round the world." Blessed with all the range and tonal control one might expect from a first-class Jazz singer, Shirley can scat, propel, coax and hang on to a note. She improvises with unnerving instincts and delivers exactly what a song needs, spinning notes like silk.

Born in Jackson, Mississippi, Shirley spent her childhood in Chicago, and “ran off" to study music and art in New York City at the age of 16. Betty Shirley honed her skills on the New York scene making use of Jazz Mobile, and performing in such clubs as Birdland, Green Street Café and the Village Gate. In the early 1990's she followed her muse and settled in the great Jazz city of New Orleans where she has continued to perform at such clubs as Snug Harbor, Royal Sonesta and Donna's.

Michael 'Mr. Jazz' Gourrier (of WRIR-FM, Richmond Virginia) says about Betty, “One of the top female vocalists on the New Orleans scene—sensitive, sassy, coy and a great interpreter." Betty Shirley has sung with some of the best Jazz musicians in the world—Ellis Marsalis, Art Blakey Jr., Benny Green and Bross Townsend, to name a few—and her tours have included Europe and Brazil . . .

The Foundation's Jazz Journey concert series brings many luminaries in modern jazz to New Orleans for unique performances. Over the years the series has presented a who's who of jazz, from Ahmad Jamal to Wallace Roney. The Foundation frequently partners with others, such as the Contemporary Arts Center and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz to stage free concerts of high-profile performers. It's all part of our mission to promote the music and culture of jazz while giving back to the community. See our schedule of events for upcoming Jazz Journey concerts.

The concert will be broadcast live on community radio station WWOZ (90.7 FM) and online at wwoz.org.

This story appears courtesy of Sylvain Music Notes.
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