The 2019 Season of the Geneva Music Festival (GMF), to be held May 24 through June 16, will celebrate “Women in Music: Key Players.” Much of the Festival’s programming will represent women’s contributions to music through featured composers or performers, including several jazz artists.
Broadway star Syndee Winters returns to GMF, this time with songwriter and actress Ann Hampton Callaway for “Bessie, Billie, Ella and Friends,” at the Smith Center for the Arts on Saturday, June 8. They’ll pay tribute to groundbreaking women in jazz, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. Jazz and blues singer Melissa Kate will open.
A graduate and recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from Five Towns College, Winter’s theatrical accomplishments include Disney’s “The Lion King,” where she made her Broadway debut as “Nala” (a role she recently reprised), “Motown: the Musical” (Mary Wells, Diana Ross), “Pippin” (Leading Player u/s) and “Hamilton: An American Musical” (Angelica, Eliza & Peggy Schuyler). Winters also appeared last year as an “Apostle” in the NBC Live Broadcast of “Jesus Christ Superstar” starring John Legend.
Callaway is one of the leading champions of the Great American Songbook, having made her mark as a singer, pianist, composer, lyricist, arranger, actress, educator, TV host and producer. Voted recently by Broadwayworld.com as “Performer of the Year,” her unique singing style blends jazz and traditional pop, making her a mainstay in concert halls, theaters and jazz clubs as well as in the recording studio, on television, and in film. Callaway is best known for a Tony-nominated performance in the hit Broadway musical “Swing!” and for writing and singing the theme song to the hit TV series “The Nanny.” She is a Platinum Award-winning writer whose songs are featured on seven of Barbra Streisand’s recent CDs. The only composer to have collaborated with Cole Porter, she has also written songs with Carole King, Rolf Lovland and Barbara Carroll, to name a few.
Born in New York State, Melissa Kate is a powerful and entertaining singer who now travels the globe with her music and arts. She is a classically trained stage actress who uses the craft of theater to create memorable music concerts in jazz, soul and blues.
Sounds of A&R (April Webb and Randall Haywood) also return with their unique brand of jazz in a concert on June 7, at Geneva’s historic Club 86. The next evening, Sounds of A&R also will make a guest appearance at the “Bessie, Billie, Ella and Friends” concert.
Partners in music and life, Webb and Haywood Randall have come together on their album “Horizon” for a distinct sound that fuses aspects of Contemporary Jazz, Soul, R&B, and Gospel influences. May, the sister of Contemporary Jazz keyboardist Jacob Webb of The JT Project, hails from Newton, Kansas. Her unique vocal approach draws from a wide range of influences from Sarah Vaughan to Ledisi. She sings with a rustic warm tone and strong articulation.
Haywood, a Juilliard graduate, utilizes the trumpet with great emotional expression. His sound continues to look towards the future, while continuously paying homage to the greats that have come before him such as Herb Albert, Miles Davis, Chris Botti, and Chuck Mangione.
A full schedule including concert details and locations, artist biographies and tickets are available on the festival’s website, www.genevamusicfestival.com.