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Adam Levy, host of “Lush Life.” 

Photo credit:  http://www.coffman.umn.edu/whole/themes/images/AdamLevy.jpg

Adam Levy, host of “Lush Life.” 

Photo credit:  http://www.coffman.umn.edu/whole/themes/images/AdamLevy.jpg

Adam Levy brings eras and genres together for “Lush Life”

  • By Allison Fingerett
  • Adam Levy is a well-versed idea man. As lead singer-songwriter for the Honeydogs, Levy is also a major player in the Minnesota music scene. His songwriting style is heavily influenced by his background in social work, as each Honeydogs album explores facets of the human psyche and the modern world.
  • Levy looks at music from a sociological perspective. His mind seems to overlay the timeline of musical evolution with corresponding elements of social change. He can wax poetic on mid-20th century American immigration, and the resulting mosaic of creativity. Levy’s enthusiasm for history and culture is contagious, and has developed into a three-part music series (Southern Songbook) that asks other songwriters to explore their roots during what he calls “a fertile time for music in Minneapolis.”
  • This Friday, at the Southern Theater, the first installment of the Southern Songbook, “Lush Life: Interpretations of the American jazz canon,” will focus on the influence of the Great American Songbook. Eight local musicians will perform songs from the jazz canon and discuss the era’s impact on the art of songwriting. Levy will serve as host, and wanted to round out the bill with a mix of established and emerging musicians who could tackle the Great American Songbook from a variety of angles. Genres represented range from hip-hop and spoken word to folk and indie pop.
  • Levy worked with music director, DeVon Gray, and manager of Invisible Button Entertainment, Lily Troia, to select the diverse and exemplary array of talent for the showcase. But Levy’s depth of knowledge and passion for the project made me curious to know why he chose each artist on the “Lush Life” roster, In a brief interview, I asked Levy why he choose each artists for "Lush Life."
  • AL on Mayda: She’s been creating a sense of newness for a while with what she’s doing. She’s a funky guitar player and a literate songwriter who defies genre categorization.
  • On Ill Chemistry (Carnage & Desdamona): I’m looking forward to Carnage doing some beat-boxing. I really like his vibe and I think he’s a really sharp guy. Desdamona is a ridiculously great poet, and though she won’t often tell you, she’s a fantastic soul singer. Together, they’re unstoppable.
  • On Omaur Bliss: He’s a longtime fixture in town and a great M.C. As simple as it may sound, I really like his singing voice.
  • On Janey Winterbauer: I know she can just nail this stuff in a traditional fashion. She has a phenomenal voice and just happens to know this music really well.
  • On Bethany Larson: She’s a charming musician with a lovable vibe who loves this music.
  • On Toki Wright: He’s a high profile M.C. and second generation Rhymesayers artist. I wanted to see what would happen if we gave him these old tunes and a chance to tie the genres together.
  • On Ashleigh Still: She’s a mindblowingly good soul singer and scholar of older African American gospel music. She brings racy lyrics about modern struggles to traditional musical styles and I can’t wait to see how she interprets the Great American Songbook.
  • Allison Fingerett is a senior at the University of Minnesota in the department of psychology.

All Eyes on Mayda....

  • A Look at the Inspirations Behind Her Raw and Original Sound
  • By Caitlin Jagodzinski
  • Mayda, a Twin Cities pop/funk artist, is undeniably one of the most noteworthy musicians in the metro area. The Korean adoptee and St. Paul native has played both nationally and internationally, and her music’s been featured on the Kare 11 Morning Show, USA’s Good Morning America, and the Rachael Ray Show. She’ll be a guest artist in “Lush Life: Interpretations of the American jazz canon,” in which musicians deliver fresh takes on songs and styles from the Great American Songbook—an artistry with which Mayda’s quite familiar.
  • While she’s chosen pop/funk as the sound that best expresses her musically, Mayda’s deft at musical exploration, and she mixes genres together as if they’d never been differentiated in the first place. Her new and unconventional sound combines groovy disco, bluesy acoustic guitar riffs and electric pop beats with a funky twist. Her vocal style, a mix of raw Janis Joplin with the soulful funk of Alicia Keys, should be no trouble for the Broadway and Ragtime songs of the Great American Songbook.
  • She also collaborates with drummer Michael Bland, notable for his work with Prince in the early ‘90s, who adds a pinch of the Minneapolis music icon’s flavor to her mix. What comes from all this edgy creativity is an emotional and honest sound so consuming it will leave fans and first time listeners alike begging for more after her two songs at “Lush Life.”
  • Mayda’s musical style, the only pop/funk angle in “Lush Life,” should make her performance that much more interesting. Curious about her musical influences, I spoke to Mayda about her music for “Lush Life” as well as her recordings. So what inspires such an imaginative and honest sound? Mayda discusses below.
  • CJ: What most influences your songs and recordings?
  • M: Most of it comes from personal experience with people, places, ideas and stories. I like to use my imagination a lot. I am also very drawn to theater, raw emotion and humor in any artistic fashion.
  • CJ: What musical training do you have? What about this training has influenced your musical style?
  • M: I have over 15 years of classical piano training that has definitely helped me with the technical side of music (keys, time signatures, scales, Italian words…) This kind of practice has not only refined my knowledge of music and sound, but it has also led me to explore other genres such as jazz and blues. These styles introduced me to a whole different world of music where there weren’t charts to follow, and the music had a more free and improvised aspect to it. I found this extremely liberating, which just made me want to explore as much music as I could. Through my investigations of musical fusion I found comfort, and identified with pop and funk music the most.
  • CJ: What songs did you choose from the Great American Songbook and what about these choices intrigued you?
  • M: The first song I chose was “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” which is a fun number that can easily be done tongue-n-cheek. The second song was “Lady Sings the Blues.” I have always been able to identify with Billie Holiday as a woman who wears her heart on her sleeve. Musically, I thought it would be easy for me to put my own spin on it.
  • CJ: What artists or musical styles shaped your interpretations for “Lush Life?”
  • M: I think for my first choice I heard a hard modern dance beat behind it, almost MIA or house-ish. When I heard the tune, I could hear it done my way. I thought a creepy interpretation would be awesome! With my second choice, I wanted to put a more funky Al Green swing on it.
  • CJ: What do you find most compelling about “Lush Life?”
  • M: What is most compelling about this project is the interpretation of the songs from one genre to another, one artist to another, one idea to another. I am really excited to see how artists in other genres reinterpret their choices, and then find out why. It is interesting to look at how close the songs are to the original.
  • For more on Mayda please visit the following:
  • http: //www.mayda.us/
  • http: //www.myspace.com/imaydasong
  • Caitlin Jagodzinski is a senior in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Minnesota. She is currently majoring in Public Relations with a minor in General Management.
Ill Chemistry members Desdamona and Carnage the Executioner

Ill Chemistry members Desdamona and Carnage the Executioner

The Minnesota-based, hip-hop duo, Ill Chemistry, is perfect for Lush Life because Desdamona’s spoken word and Carnage the Executioner’s beat boxing already use jazz elements. To learn more about how jazz and hip hop converge, please listen to Cristeta Boarini’s audio post.

By Kiya Edwards, a University of Minnesota senior studying broadcast journalism and theater arts. She interns at Twin Cities Live and  Washburn High School. She’s also co-founder and co-president of U Broadcast, a new student group, a singer in the Enchantments Acappella and an officer for the Nafula Foundation Student Support Group.

“My performance will be a lot less rap and a lot more of something else I’ll save for the performance.”
Toki Wright, from “Classic Meets Contemporary”
 
Photo credit: 
http://www.myspace.com/tokiwrightmusic/photos/albums/my-photos/78997

My performance will be a lot less rap and a lot more of something else I’ll save for the performance.”

Toki Wright, from “Classic Meets Contemporary”

Photo credit: 

http://www.myspace.com/tokiwrightmusic/photos/albums/my-photos/78997

"The art of songwriting is to convey a message in the simplest and easiest way possible and the songs that I have chosen are that: eloquent, simple and stoic."
Omaur Bliss, from “Classic Meets Contemporary”
Photo credit: http://media.avclub.com/images/articles/article/29304/omaurbliss_IMG_2440_300wide_jpg_300x1000_q85.jpg

"The art of songwriting is to convey a message in the simplest and easiest way possible and the songs that I have chosen are that: eloquent, simple and stoic."

Omaur Bliss, from “Classic Meets Contemporary”

Photo credit: http://media.avclub.com/images/articles/article/29304/omaurbliss_IMG_2440_300wide_jpg_300x1000_q85.jpg

Classic Meets Contemporary: Omaur Bliss and Toki Wright

  • by Maddy Hughes
  • Toki Wright and Omaur Bliss are icons in the local Minneapolis rap and hip-hop community. Singers with Rhymesayers Entertainment--the independent, Minneapolis-based hip-hop record label that’s gained national and international attention since its establishment in 1995-- Wright and Bliss write music that seeks to empower listeners, whether politically or emotionally.
  • While each musician maintains his own distinctive musical style (Wright's loyal to rap, while Bliss veers into R&B with hip-hop on the side), these two artists are compelling choices for "Lush Life." Since the music of "Lush Life" is based on jazz standards from the Great American Songbook, which emerged from the struggles of new immigrant populations in the early 20th century, musicians from the rap/hip-hop genre are prime candidates for this show as their music also deals with romance, loss and changes in American society.
  • Q&A with Omaur Bliss
  • MH: Your music leans more toward R&B than hip-hop. What about the Great American Songbook appealed to you?
  • OB: Jazz has been a great influence in my life—especially old R&B, which is a direct derivative of jazz. So to interpret these songs for a modern palate is not only paying homage to those who have allowed me to do what I do, but I’m making connections for a newer generation that may not see the direct influence that jazz still has on popular music.
  • MH: Which songs from the Great American Songbook affect you the most, and why?
  • OB: One song I chose was "Autumn Leaves" by Nat King Cole. I am a huge fan of his and this song is amazing and his voice is so soothing. The other one I chose was "Ain't Misbehavin'." It’s just a really fun song and I think that's important in music, especially how jazz was fun and free a lot of times.
  • MH: Out of all the artists from the jazz canon era, which one(s) do you identify with or find inspiration in?
  • OB: Nat King Cole, Lena Horn, Duke Ellington. Their music has influenced so many people as well as their style. They were all amazing songwriters as well.
  • MH: What from your musical career as a singer/songwriter will influence your performance in "Lush Life?"
  • OB: Definitely all of the years of singing backups and lead vocals. Also the art of songwriting is to convey a message in the simplest and easiest way possible and the songs that I have chosen are that: eloquent, simple and stoic.
  • MH: What aspects or characteristics of R&B are you using to reinvent the defining music in American history?
  • OB: The sultriness as well as the heartfelt emotion that R&B, especially older R&B, has, as well as the lightness and the fun of it.
  • MH: What about performing in "Lush Life" excites you the most?
  • OB: The concept is a really cool one. I think for those who want an education in jazz this will be a great experience for them. I personally am excited to work with all of the fabulous artists that are on the bill. I have so much respect and admiration for all of them. For me, since I no longer live in the Twin Cities area, this is in some cases a family reunion for me. To see some friends perform and to have the experience of sharing these phenomenal songs will be a big joy for me.
  • Q&A with Toki Wright
  • MH: Your music leans more toward hip-hop than R&B. What about the Great American Songbook appealed to you?
  • TW: I have never been familiar with the Great American Songbook, but I have been a fan of the great musicians’ work that has been preserved. There is something about the jazz greats and the environment in which they created their work that has always intrigued me—struggle, hardship, pain, love; all universal concepts.
  • MH: Which songs from the Great American Songbook affect you the most, and why?
  • TW: That would be too many to count but the selections I chose for "Lush Life" are Louis Armstrong's "Black and Blue" and Thelonious Monk's rendition of "I Should Care." Both songs spoke directly to me internally.
  • MH: Out of all the artists from the jazz canon era, which one(s) do you identify with or find inspiration in?
  • TW: Way too many to count, but I would say either Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong.
  • MH: What from your musical career as a songwriter will influence your performance in "Lush Life?"
  • TW: I want to take my opportunity to delve into deeper discussion than I often get to in a 30-minute mashed together assortment of songs.
  • MH: What aspects or characteristics of rap and/or hip-hop are you using to reinvent the defining music in American history?
  • TW: My performance will be a lot less rap and a lot more of something else I'll save for the performance.
  • MH: What about performing in "Lush Life" excites you the most?
  • TW: The influence of jazz and its relationship to the American experience.
  • Maddy Hughes is a junior in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota.
“Really, it’s just about creating energy.  These are all dynamic performers, and they’re going to bring that energy with them to anything that they do. So it’s really just trying to steer the lightning bolts.” —DeVon Gray, a.k.a. dVRG, Southern Songbook musical director, talking about the musicians and process of putting together “Lush Life.” 
Photo Credit: Heiruspecs blog—http://heiruspecs.wordpress.com/about/

“Really, it’s just about creating energy.  These are all dynamic performers, and they’re going to bring that energy with them to anything that they do. So it’s really just trying to steer the lightning bolts.” 

—DeVon Gray, a.k.a. dVRG, Southern Songbook musical director, talking about the musicians and process of putting together “Lush Life.”

Photo Credit: Heiruspecs blog—http://heiruspecs.wordpress.com/about/

Adam Levy, host of “Lush Life.” 

Photo credit:  http://www.coffman.umn.edu/whole/themes/images/AdamLevy.jpg

Adam Levy, host of “Lush Life.” 

Photo credit:  http://www.coffman.umn.edu/whole/themes/images/AdamLevy.jpg

Adam Levy brings eras and genres together for “Lush Life”

  • By Allison Fingerett
  • Adam Levy is a well-versed idea man. As lead singer-songwriter for the Honeydogs, Levy is also a major player in the Minnesota music scene. His songwriting style is heavily influenced by his background in social work, as each Honeydogs album explores facets of the human psyche and the modern world.
  • Levy looks at music from a sociological perspective. His mind seems to overlay the timeline of musical evolution with corresponding elements of social change. He can wax poetic on mid-20th century American immigration, and the resulting mosaic of creativity. Levy’s enthusiasm for history and culture is contagious, and has developed into a three-part music series (Southern Songbook) that asks other songwriters to explore their roots during what he calls “a fertile time for music in Minneapolis.”
  • This Friday, at the Southern Theater, the first installment of the Southern Songbook, “Lush Life: Interpretations of the American jazz canon,” will focus on the influence of the Great American Songbook. Eight local musicians will perform songs from the jazz canon and discuss the era’s impact on the art of songwriting. Levy will serve as host, and wanted to round out the bill with a mix of established and emerging musicians who could tackle the Great American Songbook from a variety of angles. Genres represented range from hip-hop and spoken word to folk and indie pop.
  • Levy worked with music director, DeVon Gray, and manager of Invisible Button Entertainment, Lily Troia, to select the diverse and exemplary array of talent for the showcase. But Levy’s depth of knowledge and passion for the project made me curious to know why he chose each artist on the “Lush Life” roster, In a brief interview, I asked Levy why he choose each artists for "Lush Life."
  • AL on Mayda: She’s been creating a sense of newness for a while with what she’s doing. She’s a funky guitar player and a literate songwriter who defies genre categorization.
  • On Ill Chemistry (Carnage & Desdamona): I’m looking forward to Carnage doing some beat-boxing. I really like his vibe and I think he’s a really sharp guy. Desdamona is a ridiculously great poet, and though she won’t often tell you, she’s a fantastic soul singer. Together, they’re unstoppable.
  • On Omaur Bliss: He’s a longtime fixture in town and a great M.C. As simple as it may sound, I really like his singing voice.
  • On Janey Winterbauer: I know she can just nail this stuff in a traditional fashion. She has a phenomenal voice and just happens to know this music really well.
  • On Bethany Larson: She’s a charming musician with a lovable vibe who loves this music.
  • On Toki Wright: He’s a high profile M.C. and second generation Rhymesayers artist. I wanted to see what would happen if we gave him these old tunes and a chance to tie the genres together.
  • On Ashleigh Still: She’s a mindblowingly good soul singer and scholar of older African American gospel music. She brings racy lyrics about modern struggles to traditional musical styles and I can’t wait to see how she interprets the Great American Songbook.
  • Allison Fingerett is a senior at the University of Minnesota in the department of psychology.

All Eyes on Mayda....

  • A Look at the Inspirations Behind Her Raw and Original Sound
  • By Caitlin Jagodzinski
  • Mayda, a Twin Cities pop/funk artist, is undeniably one of the most noteworthy musicians in the metro area. The Korean adoptee and St. Paul native has played both nationally and internationally, and her music’s been featured on the Kare 11 Morning Show, USA’s Good Morning America, and the Rachael Ray Show. She’ll be a guest artist in “Lush Life: Interpretations of the American jazz canon,” in which musicians deliver fresh takes on songs and styles from the Great American Songbook—an artistry with which Mayda’s quite familiar.
  • While she’s chosen pop/funk as the sound that best expresses her musically, Mayda’s deft at musical exploration, and she mixes genres together as if they’d never been differentiated in the first place. Her new and unconventional sound combines groovy disco, bluesy acoustic guitar riffs and electric pop beats with a funky twist. Her vocal style, a mix of raw Janis Joplin with the soulful funk of Alicia Keys, should be no trouble for the Broadway and Ragtime songs of the Great American Songbook.
  • She also collaborates with drummer Michael Bland, notable for his work with Prince in the early ‘90s, who adds a pinch of the Minneapolis music icon’s flavor to her mix. What comes from all this edgy creativity is an emotional and honest sound so consuming it will leave fans and first time listeners alike begging for more after her two songs at “Lush Life.”
  • Mayda’s musical style, the only pop/funk angle in “Lush Life,” should make her performance that much more interesting. Curious about her musical influences, I spoke to Mayda about her music for “Lush Life” as well as her recordings. So what inspires such an imaginative and honest sound? Mayda discusses below.
  • CJ: What most influences your songs and recordings?
  • M: Most of it comes from personal experience with people, places, ideas and stories. I like to use my imagination a lot. I am also very drawn to theater, raw emotion and humor in any artistic fashion.
  • CJ: What musical training do you have? What about this training has influenced your musical style?
  • M: I have over 15 years of classical piano training that has definitely helped me with the technical side of music (keys, time signatures, scales, Italian words…) This kind of practice has not only refined my knowledge of music and sound, but it has also led me to explore other genres such as jazz and blues. These styles introduced me to a whole different world of music where there weren’t charts to follow, and the music had a more free and improvised aspect to it. I found this extremely liberating, which just made me want to explore as much music as I could. Through my investigations of musical fusion I found comfort, and identified with pop and funk music the most.
  • CJ: What songs did you choose from the Great American Songbook and what about these choices intrigued you?
  • M: The first song I chose was “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” which is a fun number that can easily be done tongue-n-cheek. The second song was “Lady Sings the Blues.” I have always been able to identify with Billie Holiday as a woman who wears her heart on her sleeve. Musically, I thought it would be easy for me to put my own spin on it.
  • CJ: What artists or musical styles shaped your interpretations for “Lush Life?”
  • M: I think for my first choice I heard a hard modern dance beat behind it, almost MIA or house-ish. When I heard the tune, I could hear it done my way. I thought a creepy interpretation would be awesome! With my second choice, I wanted to put a more funky Al Green swing on it.
  • CJ: What do you find most compelling about “Lush Life?”
  • M: What is most compelling about this project is the interpretation of the songs from one genre to another, one artist to another, one idea to another. I am really excited to see how artists in other genres reinterpret their choices, and then find out why. It is interesting to look at how close the songs are to the original.
  • For more on Mayda please visit the following:
  • http: //www.mayda.us/
  • http: //www.myspace.com/imaydasong
  • Caitlin Jagodzinski is a senior in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Minnesota. She is currently majoring in Public Relations with a minor in General Management.
Ill Chemistry members Desdamona and Carnage the Executioner

Ill Chemistry members Desdamona and Carnage the Executioner

The Minnesota-based, hip-hop duo, Ill Chemistry, is perfect for Lush Life because Desdamona’s spoken word and Carnage the Executioner’s beat boxing already use jazz elements. To learn more about how jazz and hip hop converge, please listen to Cristeta Boarini’s audio post.

By Kiya Edwards, a University of Minnesota senior studying broadcast journalism and theater arts. She interns at Twin Cities Live and  Washburn High School. She’s also co-founder and co-president of U Broadcast, a new student group, a singer in the Enchantments Acappella and an officer for the Nafula Foundation Student Support Group.

“My performance will be a lot less rap and a lot more of something else I’ll save for the performance.”
Toki Wright, from “Classic Meets Contemporary”
 
Photo credit: 
http://www.myspace.com/tokiwrightmusic/photos/albums/my-photos/78997

My performance will be a lot less rap and a lot more of something else I’ll save for the performance.”

Toki Wright, from “Classic Meets Contemporary”

Photo credit: 

http://www.myspace.com/tokiwrightmusic/photos/albums/my-photos/78997

"The art of songwriting is to convey a message in the simplest and easiest way possible and the songs that I have chosen are that: eloquent, simple and stoic."
Omaur Bliss, from “Classic Meets Contemporary”
Photo credit: http://media.avclub.com/images/articles/article/29304/omaurbliss_IMG_2440_300wide_jpg_300x1000_q85.jpg

"The art of songwriting is to convey a message in the simplest and easiest way possible and the songs that I have chosen are that: eloquent, simple and stoic."

Omaur Bliss, from “Classic Meets Contemporary”

Photo credit: http://media.avclub.com/images/articles/article/29304/omaurbliss_IMG_2440_300wide_jpg_300x1000_q85.jpg

Classic Meets Contemporary: Omaur Bliss and Toki Wright

  • by Maddy Hughes
  • Toki Wright and Omaur Bliss are icons in the local Minneapolis rap and hip-hop community. Singers with Rhymesayers Entertainment--the independent, Minneapolis-based hip-hop record label that’s gained national and international attention since its establishment in 1995-- Wright and Bliss write music that seeks to empower listeners, whether politically or emotionally.
  • While each musician maintains his own distinctive musical style (Wright's loyal to rap, while Bliss veers into R&B with hip-hop on the side), these two artists are compelling choices for "Lush Life." Since the music of "Lush Life" is based on jazz standards from the Great American Songbook, which emerged from the struggles of new immigrant populations in the early 20th century, musicians from the rap/hip-hop genre are prime candidates for this show as their music also deals with romance, loss and changes in American society.
  • Q&A with Omaur Bliss
  • MH: Your music leans more toward R&B than hip-hop. What about the Great American Songbook appealed to you?
  • OB: Jazz has been a great influence in my life—especially old R&B, which is a direct derivative of jazz. So to interpret these songs for a modern palate is not only paying homage to those who have allowed me to do what I do, but I’m making connections for a newer generation that may not see the direct influence that jazz still has on popular music.
  • MH: Which songs from the Great American Songbook affect you the most, and why?
  • OB: One song I chose was "Autumn Leaves" by Nat King Cole. I am a huge fan of his and this song is amazing and his voice is so soothing. The other one I chose was "Ain't Misbehavin'." It’s just a really fun song and I think that's important in music, especially how jazz was fun and free a lot of times.
  • MH: Out of all the artists from the jazz canon era, which one(s) do you identify with or find inspiration in?
  • OB: Nat King Cole, Lena Horn, Duke Ellington. Their music has influenced so many people as well as their style. They were all amazing songwriters as well.
  • MH: What from your musical career as a singer/songwriter will influence your performance in "Lush Life?"
  • OB: Definitely all of the years of singing backups and lead vocals. Also the art of songwriting is to convey a message in the simplest and easiest way possible and the songs that I have chosen are that: eloquent, simple and stoic.
  • MH: What aspects or characteristics of R&B are you using to reinvent the defining music in American history?
  • OB: The sultriness as well as the heartfelt emotion that R&B, especially older R&B, has, as well as the lightness and the fun of it.
  • MH: What about performing in "Lush Life" excites you the most?
  • OB: The concept is a really cool one. I think for those who want an education in jazz this will be a great experience for them. I personally am excited to work with all of the fabulous artists that are on the bill. I have so much respect and admiration for all of them. For me, since I no longer live in the Twin Cities area, this is in some cases a family reunion for me. To see some friends perform and to have the experience of sharing these phenomenal songs will be a big joy for me.
  • Q&A with Toki Wright
  • MH: Your music leans more toward hip-hop than R&B. What about the Great American Songbook appealed to you?
  • TW: I have never been familiar with the Great American Songbook, but I have been a fan of the great musicians’ work that has been preserved. There is something about the jazz greats and the environment in which they created their work that has always intrigued me—struggle, hardship, pain, love; all universal concepts.
  • MH: Which songs from the Great American Songbook affect you the most, and why?
  • TW: That would be too many to count but the selections I chose for "Lush Life" are Louis Armstrong's "Black and Blue" and Thelonious Monk's rendition of "I Should Care." Both songs spoke directly to me internally.
  • MH: Out of all the artists from the jazz canon era, which one(s) do you identify with or find inspiration in?
  • TW: Way too many to count, but I would say either Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong.
  • MH: What from your musical career as a songwriter will influence your performance in "Lush Life?"
  • TW: I want to take my opportunity to delve into deeper discussion than I often get to in a 30-minute mashed together assortment of songs.
  • MH: What aspects or characteristics of rap and/or hip-hop are you using to reinvent the defining music in American history?
  • TW: My performance will be a lot less rap and a lot more of something else I'll save for the performance.
  • MH: What about performing in "Lush Life" excites you the most?
  • TW: The influence of jazz and its relationship to the American experience.
  • Maddy Hughes is a junior in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota.
“Really, it’s just about creating energy.  These are all dynamic performers, and they’re going to bring that energy with them to anything that they do. So it’s really just trying to steer the lightning bolts.” —DeVon Gray, a.k.a. dVRG, Southern Songbook musical director, talking about the musicians and process of putting together “Lush Life.” 
Photo Credit: Heiruspecs blog—http://heiruspecs.wordpress.com/about/

“Really, it’s just about creating energy.  These are all dynamic performers, and they’re going to bring that energy with them to anything that they do. So it’s really just trying to steer the lightning bolts.” 

—DeVon Gray, a.k.a. dVRG, Southern Songbook musical director, talking about the musicians and process of putting together “Lush Life.”

Photo Credit: Heiruspecs blog—http://heiruspecs.wordpress.com/about/

Adam Levy brings eras and genres together for “Lush Life”
All Eyes on Mayda....
Classic Meets Contemporary: Omaur Bliss and Toki Wright

About:

A backstage look at local musicians' interpretations of the Great American Songbook--a prelude to part one of a new music series, Southern Songbook, at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis on November 14. This blog is written by the U of M students in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication class, "Covering the Arts: New Media, New Paradigms," taught by Camille LeFevre.

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