Alicia Olatuja, the phenom who thrilled a live and broadcast audience of millions at President Obama’s second inauguration, is coming to Wilmer Park to headline the 2019 Chestertown Jazz Festival in Wilmer Park, on Saturday, Sept. 14.
“Alicia is a singular talent, an incomparable voice that combines artistic excellence with diverse influences and thoughtful arrangements,” says Rory Trainor, the former Mainstay Executive Director who now manages many of Olatuja’s tour appearances for the Unlimited Myles agency.
“Alicia is one of the most humble, sincere, grateful, and fun artists I have ever had the chance to work with,” Trainor added. “She is a joy on and off stage. Chestertown is in for an incredible show in the park.”
Alicia Olatuja’s appearance on the banks of the Chester River is a major coup for Dr. Mel Rapelyea’s five-day festival. In the midst of a busy 2019 for the rising star, Alicia released “Intuition,” her second solo album, then took off to introduce the new material in Japan and Wellington, New Zealand, as well as in Munich, Rotterdam, London and Paris.
Now she’s back in the US, continuing her tour stateside through the fall. Her many venues include Midwest and East Coast university campuses as well as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Miami—and Chestertown.
Olatuja will be featuring songs from “Intuition” written by female composers, an interest she started to focus on when she was working on her master’s degree at the Manhattan School of Music. She said, “I feel like right now, people are ready to hear what women have to say in a new and profound way, about love and passion and also some of the more difficult subjects.”
Critics are raving about Olatuja. BSC News in France declared that she has “a voice that captivates,” while Nick Bewsey of ICON wrote that “Olatuja has a salt-of-the-earth voice and genuine embrace of the lyric—she’s like a rebooted Lizz Wright, but with her own sense of majesty.”
The New York Times called her “(a) singer with a strong, lustrous tone and an amiably regal presence onstage.”
Alicia Olatuja will take the stage under the Jazz Fest tent in Wilmer Park Sept. 14 to cap a full day of music that will start at 11 a.m. with much-loved local and regional performers, followed by national and international powerhouses during the afternoon.
The 100 Voice Choir of Kent County will open in Wilmer Park at 11 a.m. under the direction of Sylvia Frazier, and the Washington College Jazz Combo will follow, directed by master musician and “Mainstay Monday” host Joe Holt.
Baltimore’s much-loved tenor saxophonist Greg Thompkins will take the stage with his quintet by mid-afternoon, followed by Gregor Huebner. Huebner’s “El Violin Latino” will fill the tent with the music of Cuba and South America, from jazz to Bossa Nova with a taste of Eastern European klezmer music thrown in.
Rapelyea said that festival audiences love Huebner’s group so much that he’s bringing them back to Chestertown for the third time.
By far, the Wilmer Park Jazz Fest isn’t the only offering of the Chestertown Jazz Festival. There are four other opportunities for jazz lovers to hear great music: at the Garfield Center on High Street and at Sumner Hall on Queen Street in Chestertown, and—twice—at The Mainstay in Rock Hall.
On Thursday, Sept. 12, the Jazz Festival’s Kickoff performance will be at 8 pm at The Mainstay. The kickoff concert is sure to please, featuring tenor saxophone legend Larry McKenna and his quartet.
On Friday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m., Barbara Parker and Joe Holt will be the Jazz Festival stars at The Garfield Center for the Arts. And on Sunday, Sept. 15, Sumner Hall will host two showings of “Jazz on a Summer’s Day,” the famed film about the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.
On Monday, Sept. 16, the Chestertown Jazz Festival will return to The Mainstay for a 7 p.m. gig that will likely feel more like a jam session than a concert. “Mainstay Monday” host and pianist-extraordinaire Joe Holt will perform with two consummate jazz masters, Max Murray on bass and Frank Russo on drums.
For more information, see the Chestertown Jazz Festival page on Facebook, and for tickets and information to any or all of the Chestertown Jazz Festival performances, go to www.garfieldcenter.org or call 410-810-2060.