Friday, July 13, 2018, 7 pm
“Queen of Gospel” Mahalia Jackson was the first gospel singer to win a Grammy, mentored both Aretha Franklin and Della Reese, and her music was the soundtrack of the civil rights movement. Jackson regularly performed at protests and rallies alongside Dr. King, and it’s said that Jackson prompted his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Five years later in 1968, Mahalia sang King’s favorite hymn, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” at his funeral.
Just days after King was assassinated, the legendary Nina Simone played a tribute at the Westbury Music Festival, performing “Why? (The King of Love is Dead),” written by her bass player Gene Taylor in reaction to King’s death. Simone spoke of this “folk song” to PBS that same year, saying: “It’s a good time for black people to be alive. It’s a lot of hell. A lot of violence, but I feel more alive now than I ever have in my life. I have a chance to live, as I’ve dreamed.”
The accomplished and soulful vocalist Brianna Thomas, joined by special guest trombone legend Wycliffe Gordon, leads this commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination in a night of gospel, jazz, and spirituals inspired by the works of Jackson and Simone.
Brianna Thomas, vocals
Special Guest : Wycliffe Gordon, trombone
Patrick Bartley Jr., alto saxophone
Bruce Harris, trumpet
Marvin Sewell, guitar
Conun Pappas, keyboards
Fernando Saci, percussion
James Hurt, piano
Ryan Berg, bass
Kyle Poole, drums