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Recent Highlights: Jan – Mar 2021

Katherine Blodgett  ·  Posted March 30, 2021

Annenberg Center Debuts


Photo courtesy of HopeBoykinDance
Powerful. Stunning. Inspiring. These are just a few of the words our audiences have shared with us since the spring digital season began in early February. It’s always great to hear such praise for the artists who have given a superlative performance. But in the past year, as we transitioned to livestreamed performances, it is particularly meaningful. And when we read that “the production team stars along with the dancers,” we get excited at the thought that perhaps that invisible barrier, across the virtual divide, just might be dissolving, bringing our virtual audiences so much closer. As one of only a couple of venues in the Philadelphia area to stream live performances in real time, this is a wonderful affirmation of the artists and their art and our staff learning to work in completely new ways. Here are a few highlights from the first weeks of our spring season.

Preserving the live experience has been our overriding goal for our 20/21 season. For debut artists, the dramatic tension of the live experience lends an extra level of energy, even in a virtual setting. For the audience, hearing new artists such as rising jazz stars Samara Joy and Pasquale Grasso gives a peek into the future of the art form. These fresh voices and musicians were a great kickoff to the spring season. You can read more about Samara Joy and her connection to Philadelphia in The Philadelphia Tribune and hear from both artists on our blog in our 5 Questions series. Read more...

5 Questions with Samara Joy & Pasquale Grasso

Posted January 28, 2021

Annenberg Center Debuts

She just won the prestigious Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition. His guitar technique has garnered high praise from jazz great Pat Metheny. Together, with astonishing talent that belies their youth, Samara Joy and Pasquale Grasso will make their Annenberg Center debut on February 4. In this special double edition of our 5 Questions series, let’s learn more about Samara and Pasquale.

Samara Joy:

1. Name a few artists you love that everyone should check out.

Everyone should check out Sarah Vaughan, Phineas Newborn, and Ben Webster, just to name a few.

Read more...

5 Questions with Veronica Swift

Posted November 5, 2020

Annenberg Center Debuts

With expansive musical influences, a commanding stage presence and a renowned jazz lineage, vocalist Veronica Swift is carving out her own identity in the world of jazz and beyond, and she’s just getting started. She’s making her Annenberg Center debut on November 12 but let’s get to know her a bit better through our 5 Questions series.

1. Talk about your background.

As many of your subscribers may know, I grew up in a touring jazz musician family. This means I grew up on the road, sleeping in the back seat of a car with my head propped up against a JBL speaker, stopping at drive-thrus, sitting at the bar or in the green room with my sketchbook while my parents gigged with some of the great jazz legends. You know those old MGM movies about the vaudeville family on the road together? Well, once I turned nine years old and started to sing, that was my life. Learning this music and also the way of the road from the greatest of examples in jazz. Read more...

5 Questions with Tivon Pennicott

Posted October 6, 2020

Annenberg Center Debuts

Let’s learn more about tenor saxophonist Tivon Pennicott in just five questions! This three-time Grammy® Award-winner is making his Annenberg Center debut on October 22 as part of our fall 2020 season. We know he’s in-demand, as the go-to tenor player for Stevie Wonder, Jon Batiste, Gregory Porter, Esperanza Spalding and more, but we’re eager to discover more about this rising jazz star.

1. Talk about your background.

During the American civil rights movement, my parents were listening in a small town in Jamaica from a choppy radio signal on all the happenings. As the early beginnings of positive change came to be, the Land of Liberty became more enticing to my folks. They decided to move to North Carolina in the mid 70's. They eventually moved to Marietta, Georgia where my sister and I were born. Needless to say, our way of living remains deeply rooted within our Jamaican heritage. Read more...