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May 24, 2013
Grammy nominated composer
Friday, May 24
8pm $32 & 10pm $27 / students $14
With a unique musical perspective, intimate voice and prolific treasure-trove of lyrics, singer-songwriter Brenda Russell proves that a truly glowing talent only deepens with time. Composer of the classics “Get Here,” “If Only For One Night,” and the Grammy-nominated “Piano In The Dark,” Brenda’s songwriting prowess and chameleon-like ability to shift between musical genres and combine styles trumpeted ovations in 2005 with the opening of the Tony Award-winning hit Broadway musical The Color Purple--a show for which she, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray co-wrote the music and lyrics. Brenda and her co-authors were also nominated for a 2007 Grammy in the Best Musical Show Album category for the original cast album.
From its opening night in December 2005, The Color Purple became a seminal presence on The Great White Way as one of the 2006’s top grossing shows. In 2007 the musical built on its big first year by adding American Idol winner Fantasia to take over the lead role of Celie from Tony Winner LaChanze and by opening its much-anticipated touring company in Chicago in April of 2007 with Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child in the role of Shug. While Fantasia earned rave reviews from New York critics for her performance, the equity touring company spread the Purple gospel in cities nationwide through February 2010 ending its run at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles with Fantasia reprising her critically acclaimed role. Now, the non-equity company is carrying the torch in the US while shows are being developed in other territories. The play continues to move audiences around the world and is currently scheduled for a July 2013 opening in London.
Brenda’s signature style has helped propel a variety of projects. She co-wrote the song “Justice of the Heart” with Stevie Wonder for the Denzel Washington movie John Q—a song that Wonder performed. And her co-composition with Brazilian artist Ivan Lins titled “She Walks This Earth” was recorded by Sting for the all-star tribute album called Love Affair: The Music Of Ivan Lins. Sting’s inspired performance earned him a Grammy Award in 2001 for Best Pop Male Vocal Performance. The stream of artists who call upon Brenda’s talent is formidable. In 2002, Singer Will Downing had a Top 20 Urban radio hit with one of her co-compositions, “Don’t You Talk To Me Like That.” That same year, Solomon Burke’s critically acclaimed and Grammy-winning comeback album Don’t Give Up On Me (Fat Possum) featured “None of Us Are Free,” co-written by Brenda, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. The three were among an all-star lineup of songwriters on Burke’s recording including Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, Tom Waits and Brian Wilson. The song was also recorded as a duet by soul legend Sam Moore and Sting for Moore’s highly praised 2006 album Overnight Sensational. Other superstar artists who have either collaborated with Brenda or recorded her songs include Flo Rida, Babyface, Mary J. Blige, Michael McDonald, Bow Wow, Janet Jackson, Donna Summer, Earth, Wind & Fire, Ray Charles, Luther Vandross, Joe Cocker, Roberta Flack, Al Jarreau and Johnny Mathis.