Ledisi with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
First, his rendition of Luther Vandross’ “My Sensitivity (Gets in the Way)” which was featured on the 2004 tribute album Forever, forever, for Luther.
Added at the last minute by a keen producer as a replacement for a better-known singer who had to cancel, Ledisi’s gripping sensibility in the Vandross cover and the airplay it generated inspired prestigious jazz label Verve Records to put the struggling freelance artist under contract. .
In 2007, the label released their studio album lost found and also included it as part of another tribute, this one the star-studded special and companion PBS recording. We love Ella! A tribute to the first lady of song.
Ledisi, who has released a total of 11 albums and garnered 14 Grammy nominations, with a win – the last last year as top traditional R&B performance for “Anything For You” – continued to pay tribute to some of his idols and influences, increasingly in performances for television and film projects, a job that is as much acting as it is singing.
Along with tribute performances at televised award ceremonies for Aretha Franklin and Anita Baker, the illustrious list includes her portrayals of Patti LaBelle in American soulBET’s drama series on train of soulsand Gladys Knight in the next biopic turn the goldabout an industry executive who helped discover and promote many musical superstars as the founder of Casablanca Records.
She also portrayed “gospel queen” Mahalia Jackson, a fellow New Orleans native twice, first in Ava DuVernay’s acclaimed 2014 biopic. Selmaand more recently as the star of Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Storya biopic that hit the film festival circuit earlier this year.
And then there’s Nina Simone, whom Ledisi cites as one of her biggest inspirations.
In 2010, Ledisi stole the show as the fourth vocalist in an unforgettable rendition of Simone’s classic “Four Women,” performed as a powerhouse quartet with Kelly Price, Marsha Ambrosius and Jill Scott, which aired on the TV special BET. Black Girls Rock.
On stages across the country, including Strathmore in 2019 and the Kennedy Center last spring, she performed “Nina and Me,” a full-length concert special about the music, legacy and influence of the legendary black icon. and iconoclast in an orchestrated mix of classical, jazz and R&B.
This concert schedule also led to the 2020 PBS special Ledisi Live: Tribute to Nina Simone plus the underrated seven-track EP Ledisi sings Ninareleased last summer, with the accompaniment of the Metropole Orkest and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and including an equally moving new version of “Four Women”, this time a powerful quartet with Lisa Fischer, Lizz Wright and Alice Smith.
Later this month, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra features Ledisi as a headlining guest artist at its season-opening gala, where she will pay homage to Simone in style, with live accompaniment from the full orchestra.
Along with his covers of Simone, the program will also feature headliners from Ledisi’s R&B repertoire, reimagined with big band strings and horns reminiscent of the artist’s jazz roots.
The first in-person BSO gala in several years, the concert kicks off the orchestra’s 2022-23 season as well as the season-long star-studded Pops series celebrating Jack Everly in his final season as conductor. main orchestra of BSO.
Guests are invited to the post-concert dessert and beverage reception offering a preview of a new exhibit celebrating the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall’s 40th anniversary as the orchestra’s home in Baltimore.
The BSO Gala with Ledisi will be held Saturday, September 17 at 8 p.m. at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St. in Baltimore, Maryland.
Tickets, including a commemorative BSO 2022 gala cup and two tickets to the post-concert reception, cost between $85 and $125. Call 410-783-8000 or visit www.bsomusic.org.