In the Jazz Tradition: Nnenna Freelon
Nnenna Freelon does not simply interpret the standards of the great American songbook. She reinvents them entirely, stretching their melodies and pushing and pulling at their meters until they are reborn. Whether singing the songs of Billie Holiday on her GRAMMY-nominated Blueprint of a Lady or paying tribute to Lena Horne in her show Lena: A Lovesome Thing, her warm voice glides from stately sophistication to kinetic joy, delighting in the possibility of the tune at hand. Concurrently raised on a stack of jazz records and in the grand gospel tradition of her childhood Massachusetts church, Freelon took time to listen, learn, and develop her own approach before recording her debut in her late thirties. In the quarter century since, she has been nominated for six GRAMMYS, entertained at the White House, become an accomplished actor, and earned a reputation, according to NPR, as "one of the greatest vocalists to come along in decades." Freelon is a creative and philanthropic force in Durham, where she has lived since 1978. With two separately ticketed sets (7 PM; 9 PM), she provides a fitting invocation for In the Jazz Tradition, with hometown artistry as rich as that of any jazz singer in the world.