Bessie, Billie, & Nina – Pioneering Women in Jazz
Touring America this winter

From the Jim Crow era-South through the turbulent 1960s, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone were among the most influential and popular singers of their times. Both within their music and outside of the clubs and concert halls, they wielded their exceptional talents to combat racial prejudice, sexism, and poverty. Whether powerfully and playfully claiming her autonomy and sexuality (Bessie Smith), forcing America to acknowledge the racism pervasive in the American South and beyond (Billie Holiday), or giving voice to the Civil Rights movement with stirring protest anthems (Nina Simone), these trailblazing singers spoke to and for the disenfranchised as women, African-Americans, and artists. All three women defied social norms, embracing self-empowerment through their art.

Produced by Grammy-winning Eli Wolf (Norah Jones, Cassandra Wilson), and with arrangements by pianist and musical director Carmen Staff (Dee Dee Bridgewater), BESSIE, BILLIE, & NINA – PIONEERING WOMEN IN JAZZ features three dynamic vocalists, each a rising star in her own right: Charenée Wade (regular performer with Jazz at Lincoln Center), Tahira Clayton (co-leader, WIJO, Women in Jazz Organization) and Vanisha Gould. Presented in affiliation with WIJO, and backed by an all-female band, Wade, Clayton, and Gould celebrate the enduring legacies of these iconic women and artists with performances of their classic songs, including Bessie Smith’s “Downhearted Blues,” Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” and Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam.”

The musical and social legacies of Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, and Nina Simone remain as relevant as ever. Their contributions resonate with today’s artists across many genres, as well as with ongoing movements toward progress and equality for women, African-Americans, and the LGBTQ community. BESSIE, BILLIE, & NINA will entertain, inspire, and empower audiences during this pivotal time in our own history.”

Wed Feb 16
Schaeffer Auditorium, Kutztown University
Kutztown, PA

Thurs Feb 17
Longwood Gardens
Kennett Square, PA

Fri Feb 18
The Ware Center, Millersville University
Lancaster, PA

Sat Feb 19
Music Center at Strathmore
North Bethesda, MD

Sun Feb 20
Virginia Arts Festival, Attucks Theater
Norfolk, VA

Wed Feb 23
Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts
Bloomington, IL

Fri Feb 25
Door Community Auditorium
Fish Creek, WI

Sat Feb 26
Pablo Center at the Confluence
Eau Claire, WI

Mon Feb 28
McKendree College, The Hett
Lebanon, IL

Tue Mar 1
Ball State University
Muncie, IN

Wed Mar 2
Ohio University, Templeton Auditorium
Athens, OH

Fri Mar 4
Hoyt Sherman Place
Des Moines, IA

Sat Mar 5
Sheldon Concert Hall
St Louis, MO

Sun Mar 6
Johnson County Community College
Overland Park, KS

Sun Mar 13
Mount Baker Theater
Bellingham, WA

Tues Mar 15
Washington Center for the Performing Arts
Olympia, WA

Wed Mar 16
Schaeffer Auditorium, Kutztown University
Kutztown, PA

Thur Mar 17
The O’Shaughnessy, College of St. Catherine
St Paul, MN

Fri Mar 18
College of St Benedict/St John’s University
St Joseph, MN

Sat Mar 19
Stanford Live, Bing Concert Hall
Stanford, CA

Sun Mar 20
Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center
Livermore, CA

Tues Mar 22
Luther Burbank Center for the Arts
Santa Rosa, CA

Thurs Mar 24
Pepperdine University
Malibu, CA

Fri Mar 25
Irvine Barclay Theater
Irvine, CA

Sat Mar 26
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Scottsdale, AZ

Sun Mar 27
Popejoy Hall at University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM