Jazz Great Wycliffe Gordon Steps in to Headline Opening Night of Inaugural North Star Festival alongside Michael Bublé ’s Trumpeter Jumaane Smith October 2 in Niagara-on-the-Lake
"Wycliffe Gordon, just his presence is a creative experience.” (Wynton Marsalis)
"Wycliffe Gordon can outperform nearly anyone playing jazz.” (New York Times)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEPT. 25, 2015 - (Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON) Jazz great Wycliffe Gordon, hailed as “Best of Trombone” by Downbeat Critics Poll for three years running, will step in to headline the opening night of the North Star Festival alongside Michael Bublé’s lead trumpeter Jumaane Smith on October 2, 2015 at St. Mark’s Anglican Church. Established in 1792, St. Mark’s has deep historical ties to the first Black settlers in Niagara-on-the-Lake with baptism and burial records dating back to the early 19th century. Wycliffe Gordon replaces Joe Sealy who, due to illness, is unable to perform.
"It's extremely unfortunate that Joe Sealy will not be able to headline the Friday evening concert," says Bravo Niagara! Founder and Artistic Director, Christine Mori. "We have him in our thoughts and prayers and wishing him a speedy recovery. That being said, we are excited to have Wycliffe Gordon join us at short notice, and know that he will be an outstanding addition to the North Star Festival."
Gordon is a former veteran member of the Wynton Marsalis Septet, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and has been a featured guest artist on Billy Taylor's "Jazz at the Kennedy Center" Series. Gordonʼs extensive performance experience includes work with many of the most renowned jazz performers of the past and present - Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Tommy Flanagan, and many more. His “Jazz a-la-Carte” show, which debuted at the Apollo Theater, was named one of the “top five best moments in jazz” for the year 2011 by The Wall Street Journal.
Multi-faceted singer, entertainer and musician Jumaane Smith is best known to audiences throughout the world as the lead trumpeter for international superstar Michael Bublé for the past decade. His collaborations range from pop idols to jazz legends, including Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys, The Jonas Brothers, Ariana Grande, Barbara Streisand, Natalie Cole, Wynton Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, Santana, Chris Botti and others.
On October 3, attendees are treated to a special evening featuring one of Canada’s national treasures, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, at St. Mark’s Anglican Church. Committed to building bridges of understanding, appreciation, and acceptance between communities of people, both Afrocentric and other, through the medium of music, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale has performed at events honouring Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in addition to being the only Canadian ensemble invited to perform for President Obama’s inauguration. The Chorale is named in honour of renowned Niagara Falls-born African-Canadian composer R. Nathaniel Dett, the child of freedom-seekers who came to Canada through the Underground Railroad.
Wilma Morrison, Order of Ontario Historian and the driving force behind the preservation of the Nathaniel Dett Memorial Chapel in Niagara Falls, is happy to see the North Star Festival come to fruition. “Nathaniel Dett is a hometown boy made good. He was brought up in Niagara Falls and spent the early days of his career here before going on to study abroad,’ says Morrison. “I couldn’t be more pleased with everything you’ve put together for the North Star Festival. It’s a wonderful celebration, particularly through music which has always been important to our community.”
Officially endorsed by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Slave Route Project, Bravo Niagara!’s three-day North Star Festival features choral, jazz and blues performances by internationally-renowned artists to give voice to the Niagara region’s rich Black history and highlight the ongoing journey to freedom and equality. The UNESCO Slave Route Project celebrates “the artistic genius born from the interaction between people of different continents, through cultural expressions that have enriched our societies and demonstrated the wealth of intercultural dialogue. Many global musical genres - jazz, blues, soul, R&B, reggae, hip hop, tango, capoeira, and much more – all have roots in the Slave Trade.”
Ali Moussa-Iye, Chief, History and Memory for Dialogue Section of UNESCO, writes: “I wish to congratulate you for your initiative which will showcase the musical interactions generated by the slave trade and slavery. This festival will pay tribute to the resistance and resilience of Enslaved People and highlight their contribution to modern societies.”
The North Star Festival: Voices of Freedom will contribute to the ongoing work to unite the Niagara region in a global movement of promoting deeper cultural understanding, peace and dialogue for current and future generations. It is anticipated to turn into a binational festival with partners in Western New York in the coming years.
Founded in 2014, Bravo Niagara! Festival of the Arts is a not-for-profit organization based in Niagara-on-the-Lake and is dedicated to defining the Niagara Region as a destination for innovative artistic performances of the highest calibre. Their concerts are multi-sensory experiences and a "Symphony of the Senses" — music, wine, culinary and visual arts — combined with Niagara's natural beauty and historic riches.
For tickets and more information, visit www.bravoniagara.org
All artists, programmes, dates, and prices are subject to change without notice.
See list of performances on following pages.
1pm-5pm: Symposium at the Niagara Historical Society & Museum
43 Castlereagh Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Tickets: Free admission - Call 905-468-3912 (Niagara Historical Society & Museum) to RSVP.
This free community outreach initiative features a roundtable discussion with scholars from York University, Niagara University, and Duke University. Dr. Michele Johnson, a representative of the UNESCO Slave Route Project and Director of the Harriet Tubman Institute at York University, will lead a roundtable discussion entitled “Interrogating the North Star.” This will provide an opportunity to examine, from a range of perspectives, when, if and how Canada presented a “haven” for those who sought freedom, as well as the legacies of the symbol of the “North Star.” Featured participants include Adrienne Shadd, Natasha Henry, and Tamara Extian-Babiuk.
Wilma Morrison, Order of Ontario historian and a leading force in preserving the Nathaniel Dett Memorial Chapel, will speak about renowned African-Canadian composer R. Nathaniel Dett, followed by the screening of Many More Rivers to Cross, a documentary short by Andrea Conte.
Dr. Judith Wellman of SUNY at Oswego will speak about the Underground Railroad as a transnational movement and highlight the dramatic stories that took place on both sides of the Niagara Frontier borderland. Randy Andropolis of Niagara University will present “The Rich Legacy of Black Heritage in American Music” with vocal contributions by Kary Dobbs.
8pm: Joe Sealy at St. Mark’s Anglican Church
41 Byron Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Tickets: $39 + HST and service charge
Jazz great Wycliffe Gordon, hailed as “Best of Trombone” by Downbeat Critics Poll for three years running, will step in to headline the opening night of the North Star Festival alongside Michael Bublé’s lead trumpeter Jumaane Smith on October 2, 2015 at St. Mark’s Anglican Church. Established in 1792, St. Mark’s has deep historical ties to the first Black settlers in Niagara-on-the-Lake with baptism and burial records dating back to the early 19th century.The artwork of Dr. Ron Clavier will be featured.
11am-2pm: “Food for the Soul” Lunch Market at The Market @ The Village
111 Garrison Village Drive, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Tickets: Free admission
Celebrate the culinary contributions of people of African descent and the last Market of the season as The Market at The Village hosts an afternoon of food trucks, musicians, and artisans. Zawadee – Bring Africa Home presents JUNO-winning singer Dominic Mancuso and renowned percussionist Chendy Leon who will explore the rich musical influences of Africa. Zawadee will feature fine African jewelry, fashion, and artisan products of African origin. Featured food trucks include Itty Bitty Pie Company and The Dirty South.
7:30pm: Nathaniel Dett Chorale at St. Mark’s Anglican Church
41 Byron Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Tickets: $39 + HST and service charge
Canada’s first professional choral group dedicated to Afrocentric music of all styles, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale has performed at events honouring Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in addition to being the only Canadian ensemble invited to perform for President Obama’s inauguration. The Nathaniel Dett Chorale’s mission is “to build bridges of understanding, appreciation, and acceptance between communities of people, both Afrocentric and other, through the medium of music. The Chorale seeks to dissolve the barriers of stereotype, to empower humans in general, and those of African descent in particular.”
As a response to being enslaved during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, men and women of African heritage created spirituals, songs of sorrow, love, faith, and hope. Many of these songs were encoded with covert messages as a way to sing freedom into existence. The Nathaniel Dett Chorale’s program, Freedom Has A Voice, conveys the power, universality, and enduring resonance of the spiritual – the music not heard with the ears – to demonstrate why these songs still live. The artwork of Edward Spera will be featured.
The students of Royal Oak Community school will perform with JUNO winner Dominic Mancuso prior to the Nathaniel Dett Chorale's performance.
2pm: Free Community Concert at the new Harriet Tubman Public School
84 Henry Street, St. Catharines
Tickets: Free admission
Canadian blues sensations Diana Braithwaite, a descendant of freedom-seekers who settled in Wellington County, and Chris Whiteley will perform “Sugar & Gold: A Musical Story of the Underground Railroad.” Students will perform and display artwork inspired by Harriet Tubman.
4-6pm: Freedom River Cruise Featuring Harrison Kennedy
Departs at 3:30pm from 55 River Frontage Road, Queenston
Tickets: $49 + HST and service charge
Canadian blues and Motown legend Harrison Kennedy will perform on the inaugural Freedom River Cruise aboard the majestic Niagara Belle. Passengers will experience a musical and historical tour along the Niagara River, on the very water where many courageous freedom-seekers crossed and risked their lives to reach freedom in Canada. Take a walk back in time with the Lewiston Council on the Arts and witness historic reenactments of Josiah Tryon and Sally Barton Tryon, who will bring to life stories of the historic freedom crossing from Lewiston to Queenston. Tickets include light hors d’oeuvres.