Angelique Kidjo, the Julian Lage Trio, Valerie June and Eilen Jewell will usher in a new year of West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s “Mountain Stage with Larry Groce” at the West Virginia University Creative Arts Center Sunday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at the Mountainlair and CAC box offices, ticketmaster.com and by phone at 304-293-SHOW and 800-745-3000.
Dubbed “Africa’s premier diva” by Time magazine, Angelique Kidjo is a musical force unlike any other. Born in the West African country of Benin, the Grammy Award winner’s music has reached across boundaries, genres and ethnicities, finding connections that link musical forms from every part of the world. Kidjo’s music, while authentic to her upbringing, was heavily influenced by the pop music that flooded her childhood — James Brown, Otis Redding and Carlos Santana, Miriam Makeba and Bella Bellow.
“Her [Angelique Kidjo] sense of melody, and the primal cry in her voice always announce her music as African above all,” says The New York Times. In 2007, Kidjo’s eighth studio album “Djin Djin” won the Grammy for Best Contemporary World Music Album. “The power of Kidjo’s unflappable voice, the range of her emotional expression, the stellar, genre-bending musicians who back her and the infectious, activist energy that courses through her songs all transcend any native tongue,” NPR said of Kidjo’s latest release, “Eve.” Over the past decade, she has used her visibility to support a far-reaching collection of advocacy groups, from UNICEF (for whom she is a Goodwill Ambassador) to her own Batonga Foundation (providing educational aid to young African girls).
Hailed by All About Jazz as “a giant in the making,” Julian Lage grew up in California and was the subject of the Academy Award-nominated documentary, “Jules at Eight.” He gained pivotal early exposure as a prot�g� of legendary vibraphonist Gary Burton, recording and touring with Burton on two projects: “Generations” and “Next Generation.” With his own album “Sounding Point,” Lage arrived at a unique approach to composition and ensemble craft, a searching yet accessible sound that earned him his 2009 Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. The music was “a major find,” declared Time Out New York – “springy, intelligent chamber Americana that fits perfectly into a spectrum of nonesuch-style players like Bill Frisell and Chris Thile’s Punch Brothers.” Lage’s latest album, “Gladwell,” represents another stage in that evolution, building on the proven strengths of and solidifying a unique identity for his working band but continuing to open new doors and exploring new horizons.
Valerie June has developed what The Independent’s Andy Gill describes as “the most strikingly individual delivery I’ve heard in ages.” Her debut album, “Pushin’ Against The Stone,” is a showcase of her variety and dedication to her art. From the slide guitar shuffle of “You Can’t Be Told” and heavenly harmonies of traditional spiritual “Trials, Troubles, Tribulations,” to the stark, acoustic “Workin’ Woman Blues” and the uncanny darkness of “Twined and Twisted,” June effortlessly shifts between eras and genres. She can be haunting and melancholy, singing of loneliness on “Somebody To Love,” or full of warmth and charm, fondly recalling her home on “Tennessee Time.” At one moment seductive in a sensual come-on, fragile and vulnerable the next in a display of naked honesty, June transports you to another world the moment you hear her voice. Percolating somewhere between Dolly Parton and Billie Holiday, June’s is a stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks voice, the kind that grips your imagination and paints her Southern portraits in vivid detail.
Eilen Jewell is the queen of the minor key. Sad songs are her wealth and finery. The Idaho native’s unique originals feature a blend of influences from early blues, rockabilly and surf-noir, to 1960s era rock and roll. The Los Angeles Daily News wrote, “Sometimes as darkly damaged as Lucinda Williams, at others as defiant and teasing as prime Peggy Lee and always authentically Americana in the Gillian Welch tradition ? she’s mighty good.” The Word in the UK described Jewell as “A voice of real distinction (that) manages to transcend some powerful influences and pierce the fog long enough for her own point of view to emerge.”
Showtime is set for 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9 at the WVU Creative Arts Center. General admission tickets are $18 in advance, $25 the day of show. Tickets are on sale now at the Mountainlair and Creative Arts Center box offices, online at ticketmaster.com, or by calling 304-293-SHOW and 800-745-3000.
This event is presented by WVU Arts & Entertainment. For additional event information, call 304-293-SHOW, or visit events.wvu.edu. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/wvuevents and follow us on Twitter at @wvuevents for the most up-to-date show information.
CONTACT: David Ryan; WVU Arts & Entertainment
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