Three vocalists known for their abilities to interpret a classic song, Julian Hipkins, Sue Matthews and Lena Seikaly will present “The Art of the Song” at the Mainstay in Rock Hall, MD at 8:00 p.m. on Friday October 24. Admission is $20. They will be backed by an outstanding jazz quartet with Robert Redd on piano, Randy Reinhart on trumpet, Max Murray on bass and Frank Russo on drums. For information and reservations call 410-639-9133. Information is also available at the Mainstay’s website http://www.mainstayrockhall.org.
In town for a daytime Mainstay-sponsored, Snow grant-funded vocal workshop at Kent County High School, these three star vocalists will create vocal magic for the Mainstay audience in the evening. Julian Hipkins is a powerful vocalist known for his ability to really swing a song. Sue Matthews is a superb singer with a silky voice, exquisite phrasing and a passion for finding every bit of meaning in song. Lena Seikaly’s lush mezzo-soprano, clever phrasing and penchant for scat singing have made her a rising star on the DC jazz scene.
Originally from Orange, New Jersey, Julian Hipkins trained at Julliard and has lived in the DC area since 1980. His musical interpretations and acting abilities have earned him roles in dramas and musicals in the New York City area. His rich baritone voice has graced stages in Japan, Paris, Russia and the Virgin Islands and his lyrical, swinging vocal stylings have been enjoyed by BET network audiences and in many Washington DC venues including the Twins Lounge, Wolf Trap, The Lyceum, The Smithsonian Institution, The University of Maryland, American University and monthly at the Mandarin Oriental. His musical stage performances include lead vocal roles in the production of “The Forgotten”, a historical jazz opera and “Two to Tango”, a musical review of the greatest jazz and R&B duets of all time. As a producer and musical director, he has produced and performed in a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Rhythm and Rhyme Fit For A King” as well as poetry and jazz parings, “Lyrical Rhythms.” He has recorded two CDs with the Tom Cunningham Orchestra, “One O’Clock Boogie, Two O’Clock Jump” and “All the Cats Join In”.
Kent County, MD’s own Sue Matthews has a well-deserved reputation as a superb singer with an intimate style and flawless delivery. She is a regular at the Mainstay often appearing as a headliner and also as a part of Max’s Mainstay All-Stars. She first gained notice in 1991, with the release of the traditional jazz album “Love Dances.” Her smoky croon caught on with audiences and two years later, “When You’re Around” scored her another hit. She spent most of the 90’s touring behind these two albums and appeared at many jazz showcases and festivals. In 2002, “One at a Time” marked her return to the world of jazz recording. Since then she has made several recordings including the recent “Live at the Mainstay with Steve Abshire and Gene Bertoncini.”
Matthews’ performance credits are varied. She has appeared at all of the top Mid-Atlantic jazz clubs, concert halls, jazz festivals and television studios and has been featured artist with the Calgary Philharmonic, Canada and appeared at the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Showcase, at the annual JazzTimes Convention, the Annual Cabaret Convention held at New York City’s Town Hall and has been featured artist at the Clifden ArtsWeek, County Galway, Ireland multiple times. She toured Hungarian schools by invitation of the Fulbright Commission showcasing American jazz and blues with her group Guys & Doll, has been an instructor at Augusta Heritage Center’s Swing Week and is a two-time recipient of the Maryland States Arts Council Individual Artist Award in Solo Vocal Performance.
Lena Seikaly is a fresh voice on the national jazz scene from Washington, D.C. A long-time student of music, she began her classical training at age 4 with piano, continued with classical voice in her teens, and went on to complete a Bachelors of Music in classical vocal performance at the University of Maryland School of Music. Though on course for a career as an operatic mezzo-soprano, she discovered a strong passion for jazz while still in college and embarked on a fervent education of jazz history, styles, theory and composition before pursuing a jazz career in the Washington, D.C. area.
As a vocalist with several D.C. ensembles, Seikaly was a participant at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass program directed by Christian McBride, performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival (The Netherlands), the Jazz Ascona Festival (Switzerland), the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee (CA), and several other national and international venues. In 2009, she was a participant at the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., a prestigious program open to young performer-composers of jazz. She was a Strathmore Artist-in-Residence for the 2009-10 performance season. She has sold out performances at legendary D.C. institutions such as Blues Alley, the Strathmore Mansion, the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, Twins Jazz, and various Smithsonian venues. Her first album, “Written in the Stars”, is comprised of standards and original compositions.
The John Ben Snow Memorial Trust has been a strong supporter of the Mainstay’s efforts to enrich musical education in the local schools. Last year Tom McHugh, founder and Director of the Mainstay and DC jazz musician Chuck Redd used funding from a Snow grant to put together a group of accomplished singers who each have a strong background in teaching vocal workshops in response to a request from Keith Wharton, director of Music at Kent County High School to create a workshop for aspiring vocalists at the high school. Fortunately for the Mainstay’s audience, the program was so successful that the Mainstay is repeating it for this year’s students and the three vocalists will again follow their daytime workshops with an evening concert in Rock Hall.
The Mainstay (Home of Musical Magic) is the friendly informal storefront performing arts center on Rock Hall’s old time Main Street. For information and reservations call the Mainstay at 410-639-9133. More information is also available at the Mainstay’s website http://www.mainstayrockhall.org