There are a lot of reasons in my life why I feel incredibly lucky. My husband is patient with my chronic shenanigans, my kids are stinking cute, my brain stutters less often than it probably should, my dog makes a fabulous working companion and my fish are still alive (so far). Each May I feel extremely lucky because my anniversary weekend always falls on the opening weekend of Spoleto. Mr. M and I don't get to go down to Charleston together each year, but this time we did, and it was fantastic (even if I was working two separate assignments at the same time... but I love doing that, so it of added to the feeling of being surrounded by creativity, I guess).
We left Jr. and Baby B with a sitter on Friday and headed down to the coast where we checked into The Charleston Place Hotel for the next three (!!!) nights. We brought our bicycles down so that we wouldn't have to put a damper on our festive mood by driving (standing still) in festival traffic. I've said it before, but there is just something about the damp, weighty air of the Lowcountry in May and the way it sticks to your skin that is an instant stress-reliever. Add to it the sultry vocals of Cécile McLorin Salvant and you have a perfect mixture.
If you have not yet heard of Cécile, you should begin following her immediately. My fashion-genius friends may recognize her voice from the latest Chanel Chance commercial:
I'll make a confession here. I'm often bored by up-and-coming female jazz vocalists. Too often they are trying too hard to sound exactly like Ella or Sarah or Dinah or Billie. Cécile (who is 22-years-old), however, has more wisdom with her talent than many who are twice her age. Her voice sounds as though it should be wafting through the windows of a Paris jazz club in 1922, but she uses her range and her wit to give her performances a slight edge that keeps her modern audience fully engaged. I got to watch her steer her accompanying musicians* through a sound check and later was able to attend her concert at The Cistern Yard at College of Charleston. In between the two we sat down for a little chat, where I learned that she is also classically trained and has a genuine love for baroque music and opera, which she is studying while performing and recording jazz music.
She began to seriously study jazz in France, where she had access to a large library of jazz history. While learning about the genre she began to grow a love for the forgotten scores that people's grandparents may have heard but the current generation has not. Bringing new life to such works gives her a special joy in the music's appreciation that transfers easily to her audience.
The Spoleto crowd welcomed Cécile warmly, as will you if this is your first time hearing her. She is one to remember and keep track of for her voice and her intellectual sensibilities. She was a perfect fit for the Spoleto Festival for her love of history and appreciation of the nouveau Southern vibe of the city.
The concert set the tone for my work/play weekend, which you’ll hear more about later. If you haven’t made it down to Charleston yet but are considering doing so in the next week, here are some other highlights to look forward to:
Thursday: Renaud Garcia-Fons- This bassist has transformed the jazz world’s view of the instrument. The sound is the result of melding together cultures, genres and instrumental sounds in a way that is unforgettable. 5pm & 7pm at Simons Recital Hall
Friday: The Animals And Children Took To the Streets- A darkly funny comedy placed in a 1927 tenement block that has otherworldly tendencies. The show combines animation, live theater and synchronized music for a full experience. 7pm, Memminger Auditorium
Saturday: The Radio Show- Famed choreographer Kyle Abraham created this work to express the reaction of a Philadelphia community when its only urban contemporary radio station is suddenly shut down., letting us see the importance of having a vehicle for free expression. 2pm, Emmett Robinson Theater at College of Charleston (I’m dying that I’m not going down for this one!)
*I can’t leave this post without giving a shoutout to Aaron Diehl, Quentin Baxter (of Charleston Grill Fame, and a new project that I’m not sure I’m allowed to talk about… hit me up and tell me, Q) and Paul Sikivie. These guys where the ultimate trio for this concert… full of showmanship, talent and pizzazz. And they’re a truly fun group of guys, too!