Wilson to honor Billie Holiday with tour and album project

OXFORD – Grammy Award-winning jazz musician, vocalist, songwriter and producer, Cassandra Wilson, will bring “Coming Forth by Day: A Celebration of Billie Holiday” in concert Friday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m. to Hall Auditorium on Miami University’s Oxford campus.

Wilson’s 2015 tour and forthcoming album project “Coming Forth by Day” will pay tribute to famed jazz vocalist Billie Holiday on the 100th anniversary of the singer’s birth, April 7, 2015. The album is slated to release the same day from Legacy Recordings.

As a jazz legend, Holiday, also known as “Lady Day,” is best remembered for songs like “Body and Soul,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Easy Living,” “If You Were Mine,” and “Pennies From Heaven,” among others. Holiday was born in 1915. She passed away in 1959 at the age of 44.

“We found out that Cassandra was doing a program dedicated to Billie Holiday and we are excited for her to bring the concert to our stage. It’s timely with Billie Holiday’s 100th birthday,” said Director Patti Liberatore, Miami University Performing Arts Series & Arts Management.

Hearing Wilson at Hall Auditorium will be an intimate experience, she said.

“We thought this was a great opportunity to hear Cassandra, who is amazing any day of the week, any year,” Liberatore said. “To hear a living legend sing music that was performed and made famous by Billie Holiday, another legend, would be singular opportunity for our community. It’s also an excellent way to learn about Billie Holiday.”

Wilson began playing piano at age 6, guitar by the age of 12, and she was working as a vocalist by the mid-1970’s. After moving to New York City in the early 80s, she met saxophonist Steve Coleman and became one of the founding members of the M-Base Collective. After completing a stint with M-Base Collective, Wilson sought out a more of an acoustic-style to accompany her signature vocals.

In 1992, Wilson signed with Blue Note Records and released “Blue Light ‘Til Dawn,” which paved the way for a new generation of jazz singers seeking an approach and repertoire that challenged the supremacy of the American Standard songbook. In making the music her own, Wilson has continued to interpret vintage blues, country and folk music in fresh and creative ways.

“It’s hard for me to come up with better and more superlatives than what’s already been said about her. Time Magazine called Cassandra ‘America’s Best Singer,’ ” Liberatore said. “She has had such an enduring career for decades, and that is incredibly impressive. She has continued to grow artistically herself, and explore different areas of music, fusing genres and always remaining fresh, interesting and new with her performances and recordings.”

Performing with Wilson are Kevin Breit (guitar); Jon Cowherd (piano); John Davis (drums); Charlie Burnham (violin); Robby Marshall (saxophone, flute); and Lonnie Plaxico (bass).

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