Today is April 8.
Jazz singer Carmen McRae was born on this date in 1920. After winning an amateur contest at Harlem's legendary Apollo Theater in her native New York City, McRae went on to sing with the Earl Hines, Mercer Ellington and Benny Carter bands, among others. She also recorded more than 20 albums. McRae died on Nov. 10, 1994.
Contralto singer Marian Anderson died in 1993, one month after suffering a stroke. She was 91. Anderson was the first black performer to appear at the New York Met.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
Jazz at Lincoln Center (J@LC) will hold its inaugural spring benefit -- "Comin' Home to Harlem" -- in the newly renovated Apollo Theatre on May 20 (at 7:30 p.m.).
AllAboutJazz.com reports comedian and actress Whoopi Goldberg will host the event, which will also feature Stevie Wonder, actress/singer Vanessa Williams and dancer Savion Glover performing with the Wynton Marsalis Septet. Marsalis is J@LC's artistic director. Sir Roland Hanna will also demonstrate the complexities of stride piano, a style of playing that originated in Harlem and grew out of ragtime.
The concert will be followed by an elegant dinner and a fundraising auction. Guests expected to attend include Ed Bradley, Glenn Close, Harry Crosby, Alfonse D'Amato, Maurice DuBois, Ahmet Ertegun, Peter Jennings, Kellie Martin, Deborah Roberts and Al Roker, Andrew and Karenna Gore Schiff, Bobby Short, Denzel Washington, and others.
(Web site: jazzatlincolncenter.org)
A birthday tribute honoring legendary pianist and composer Randy Weston will be held this Monday at Club Exit in New York City. A jam session is planned, with expected performances by Kenny Barron, Rodney Kendrick, Junior Mance, Mulgrew Miller, Cecil Payne, Danillo Perez, Max Roach and more, JazzReview.com reports.
(By UPI's Penny Nelson Bartholomew, sitting in for Ken Franckling)