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Gateshead International Jazz Festival celebrates Lena Horne Centenary

Posted on 22 March 2017

Sage Gateshead celebrates the songs of Lena Horne in her centenary year with BBC Radio 2 presenter Clare Teal, accompanied by her 17 piece Hollywood Orchestra conducted by world class trumpeter/composer Guy Barker.

Opening this year’s Gateshead International Jazz Festival (Friday 31 March), ‘The First Ladies of Swing’ celebrates timeless classics from the great American and British songbooks made famous by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson, Peggy Lee and Lena Horne.

Lena Horne was one of the great African-American figures in 20th century entertainment. She was a dancer, movie star, civil rights activist and singer. She was also a great friend of Billy Strayhorn, who famously worked with Duke Ellington.

Guy Barker said: “Ella Fitzgerald’s legendary status means that her centenary is such an important milestone that as a result it is very easy to pass by other important artists also born in 1917, of which Lena Horne is one.”

Guy Barker played with Lena Horne for three months at the Adelphi Theatre in London in 1985.

“I would have regular jam sessions with Lena’s rhythm section on the stage before the show started. Her musicians included Rodney Jones on guitar and Ben Brown on bass, who I had met before, when they were working with Dizzy Gillespie. Lena would often come on stage, sit on a stool and listen to us play.”

At the heart of this programme are three specially commissioned pieces. Guy Barker has been asked to re-imagine three classics associated with Lena Horne to be performed for the first time at Gateshead International Jazz Festival. The chosen songs are Stormy Weather, which was Lena Horne’s signature tune, Something to Live For, written by Billy Strayhorn and which Lena often performed, and the ever popular Singin’ in the Rain, which Clare Teal will interpret in her own unique style.

The concert will also feature an eclectic list of songs with music from Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Tim Rice and Sting, honouring the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson and Peggy Lee, and including the songs Sans Souc’, Secret Love, Feeling Good, Lush Life, It Might As Well Be Spring, Wild Is The Wind and Paradisi Carousel.

The First Ladies of Swing takes places on Friday 31 March at 7.30pm in Sage One. To book tickets please contact Sage Gateshead Ticket Office either in person or by calling 0191 443 4661 or visit sagegateshead.com/gijf or click here.

ENDS

For further information, images, interview requests please contact:
Jackie Thompson, Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Sage Gateshead
E. jackie.thompson@sagegateshead.com T. 0191 443 4602