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Top Vocalists Set to Perform at Newport Jazz Festival

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


Top vocalists set to perform at Newport Jazz Festival

This year’s Newport Jazz Festival is set to show off some of the best vocalists in the business.

Singers include Andra Day, Jazzmeia Horn, Charenee Wade among others.

“For the past six decades, the Newport Jazz Festival has been the premier showcase for jazz's most supremely loved vocalists, from Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald, to Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. And, this year's edition of the festival continues in that hallowed tradition,” said Newport Jazz in their press release.

The Singers

Grammy Award-winning Gregory Porter's emergence on the scene in the last decade confirms that he is one of the coolest and most compelling vocalists of his generation. This California-born singer can deliver a lyric that spans from the question "What's Goin' On" to the provocative proclamation "Let's Get it On."

When Porter takes to the Fort Adams stage on Sunday, August 5, he'll give the audience more of that sound heard on his 2017 Nat King Cole tribute CD.


Minneapolis-born José James has covered a lot of artistic ground since he hit the scene, first as a finalist in the 2004 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocalist Competition, and with his imaginative and eclectic recordings that ring with the hip jazz-folk influences of Gil Scott-Heron, Billie Holliday and Terry Callier as well as hip-hop swagger and neo-soul nuances.

When James takes the Fort Adams stage on Saturday, August 4, (he also joins Pat Metheny on Friday, August 3, at the International Tennis Hall of Fame at the Newport Casino) he will celebrate the music of soul icon Bill Withers, the plaintive and poetic singer-songwriter whose hits, including "Lean on Me," Ain't No Sunshine" and "Use Me," defined a generation. Withers turned 80 on July 4.


St. Louis' Alicia Olatuja sang at President Barack Obama's second Inauguration, and put her stamp on the music of Chaka Khan and Michael Jackson.

Trained in jazz, soul, gospel and classical genres, she earned a Masters Degree in Classical Voice/Opera from The Manhattan School of Music, and worked with Khan, BeBe Winans and organist Dr. Lonnie Smith.

When Olatuja steps up to the mic at Fort Adams State Park on Friday, August 3, she will perform with a vocal aesthetic that combines a plethora of vocal genres into one profound and pleasing mezzo-soprano.


The Grammy-nominated Andra Day performed at The White House.

Born in Spokane, Washington, and raised in San Diego, California, Day grew up jazz channeling Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday.

Building her brand with a series of YouTube video covers of artists including Amy Winehouse and Lauryn Hill, her first CD, Cheers to the Fall, released in 2015, contained her hit single, "Rise Up."

Day again fixes her gaze upon the audience at Fort Adams State Park on Saturday, August 4.


Brooklyn's Charenée Wade is a 21st Century diva who was a graduate of Carter's program. She also took part in Dianne Reeves' Artistic Workshop at Carnegie Hall, participated in JAS Academy Summer Sessions, directed by Christian McBride and is a Manhattan School of Music alumna.

A finalist in two Thelonious Monk International Vocal competitions - once as a first runner-up in 2010 - Wade worked with a number of jazz stars including bassist Rufus Reid, saxophonist Tia Fuller and pianist Eric Reed. Her 2015 CD, Offerings: The Music of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson (which also features McBride), offers a powerful and poignant preview of the kind of social message music she'll bring to the Fort Adams Stage on Saturday, August 4.


With first-place wins at the 2015 Thelonious Monk and 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Vocal Competitions, Texas-born, Jazzmeia Horn is a graduate of The New School and also a Betty Carter disciple with shades of Sarah Vaughan and Abbey Lincoln thrown into her complex cauldron of influences. She comes to the Fort Adams stage on Sunday, August 5, fresh from a world tour in support of her Grammy-nominated debut CD, A Social Call.

Horn's voice combines Carter's bop-like fluency and phrasing, Vaughan's operatic airs and Lincoln's conscientious cries. Her voice made her an in-demand sidewoman with everybody from Wynton and Ellis Marsalis and pianist Kirk Lightsey, to saxophonists Billy Harper and Frank Wess.


2017 Newport Jazz Festival - Friday Highlights

The 2017 Newport Jazz Festival kicked of its weekend of smooth music at Fort Adams State Park yesterday. 

Berklee Global Jazz Institute Workshop Ensemble

Jimmy Greene Quartet

Amir Elsaffar's Of Sound Orchestra

Naturally 7

One For All

George Burton Quintet

Cecile McLorin Salvant

Evan Christopher Clarinet Road and New Orleans Brass

Vijay Iyer & Wadada Leo Smith

Maceo Parker

Leslie Odom, Jr.

Christian Sands Quartet

Bela Fleck & The Flecktones

Joey DeFrancesco + The People

Rodriguez Brothers

Rhiannon Giddens

Trombone Shorty

Photos courtesy of Rick Farrell, Mojo Photography


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