Temple lands Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist for 'once-in-a-lifetime' show

Feb. 06, 2014 @ 05:01 AM

One of the jazz world's up-and-coming stars will perform in Sanford with the Heart of Carolina Jazz Orchestra on Saturday.

Cecile McLorin Salvant, a 24-year-old singer, is one of the biggest names in jazz right now despite her young age. She won the prestigious Thelonius Monk International Vocal Competition in 2010 and was nominated for a Grammy last month for her album "WomanChild," which New York Times music critic Ben Ratliff called his favorite album of any genre released in 2013.

Another New York Times critic, Stephen Holden, had even higher praise than simply album of the year, writing: "She has it all. If anyone can extend the lineage of the big three — Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald — it is (McLorin Salvant)."

So how did a community jazz band in central North Carolina land a performer whom critics in the city with the world's most famous jazz clubs are swooning over? They got out in front of the hype, said Heart of Carolina Jazz leader Gregg Gelb. He said he and one of the orchestra's board members, Raleigh resident Judy Bobe, both heard McLorin Salvant just before her fame skyrocketed last year — and they booked her for a show almost immediately.

"It's kind of like Judy and I seemed to be on the same radar because we both heard (McLorin Salvant) at the same time and could immediately tell she was really good," Gelb said.

Bobe said she first learned of McLorin Salvant by reading New York Times reviews of her shows and albums, and that after listening herself, she agrees with the hype wholeheartedly — even with the claim that this young singer might eventually be considered in the same company as Fitzgerald, Holiday and Vaughan.

"People do that all the time, they throw those names around," Bobe said. "But she deserves it. ... Her name can be said in the same breath, absolutely."

This Sanford concert is sandwiched in between performances in Verona, Italy and San Fransisco, Calif. for McLorin Salvant. At the end of the month, she will be opening for the renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Bobe said it's not often that an internationally touring artist comes through Sanford — and that people in the area should make sure to take advantage of the opportunity.

"Once or twice in a lifetime, you get a great singer," she said, "and this is it."

More than 100 tickets were still available for Saturday's concert, which begins at 8 p.m. at Temple Theatre, as of Wednesday morning. There will also be a pre-show reception starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 each and can be purchased at the box office, over the phone at (919) 774-4155 or online at www.templeshows.com.

Temple Theatre Artistic Director Peggy Taphorn called it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and Chris deLambert, Temple Theatre's marketing director, said it's a sign that Sanford and its musical groups and performing venues are headed in a good direction.

"There are some amazing things going on here," he wrote in an email. "If you're not paying attention to the events we're scheduling, there's no telling what you might miss."


Who: Grammy nominated jazz vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant with the Heart of Carolina Jazz Orchestra

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Temple Theatre in downtown Sanford

Tickets: $25 at Temple Theatre box office or www.templeshows.com