Lena Seikaly and the Music of Billie Holiday at the Mainstay
Rock Hall, MD
February 23, 2015
Vocalist Lena Seikaly brings her quintet with a tribute to the music of Billie Holiday to the Mainstay in Rock Hall, Maryland on Saturday February 28 at 8:00 pm. Admission is $20. For information and reservations call 410-639-9133. Information is also available at the Mainstay’s website www.mainstayrockhall.org.Lena Seikaly is a masterful vocalist, a swiftly rising star on the Washington jazz scene, whose captivating interpretations and exquisite voice have made her a favorite at the Mainstay in her two appearances in “The Art of the Song.” The Washington Post has called her “one of Washington’s preeminent jazz singers.”
For the 100th anniversary of Billie Holiday’s birth, she has created a show honoring Holiday and her remarkable body of song recorded in the 20s, 30s and 40s. She will be joined by Lyle Link on sax, Chris Grasso on piano, Max Murray on bass and Frank Russo on drums.
Seikaly’s most recent recording, “Looking Back,” includes several songs recorded by Holiday who Seikaly credits as a major influence on her jazz style. She says, “When I first started listening to and learning about jazz, Billie’s voice was so intriguing to me. I was immediately drawn in by the tone and quality of her voice, but like many singers before me, what did me in was her impeccable phrasing. Her voice may not have been technically ‘perfect,’ but she captivated me more than any other singer for a long while — her style has so heavily influenced, if not, sculpted my ability and sense for interpretation.”
In speaking Holiday’s influence on her choice of material, Seikaly says, “her repertoire is quite unique — she recorded so many gems from the 20s, 30s and 40s that are seldom heard today, and were hardly recorded by any of her contemporaries. Those are some of the songs I want to shine light on at this concert, as well as pay homage to some of her more well-known numbers (notably, the ones that made her a household name). I feel I get to pay modest tribute to Billie Holiday in many concerts I do, but I very rarely get an opportunity to dedicate an entire concert to her and her music. I’m so excited to be joined by some of D.C. and Maryland’s top musicians for what I know will be a very memorable night.”
Duke Ellington’s biographer Dr. John Hasse called Lena Seikaly a “major league young talent in jazz.” Seikaly is making her mark as both a revivalist of traditional jazz vocals, as well as an innovator in contemporary vocal jazz styles. Classically trained, with a Bachelors in Vocal Performance from the University of Maryland School of Music, Seikaly discovered a strong passion for jazz while in college, and embarked on a fervent education of jazz history, styles, theory and composition before pursuing a jazz career in the Washington D.C. area.
She has been a participant at the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center, studied at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass program directed by Christian McBride and was selected as a Strathmore artist-in-residence for the 2009-2010 season at Bethesda, Maryland’s renowned Strathmore Music Center. She plays frequently in the DC area and has sung at several international jazz festivals.