The sounds of gospel, jazz and Christmas come together in a special concert series presented by "the gospel diva of the new millennium,"also known as singer Kim Burrell. Bringing together the power and passion of gospel and the spirit and technique of a great jazz vocalist, Burrell's synthesis will be on display December 11 and 13, 2008 at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. in The Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Kim Burrell: A Gospel Christmas is part of this season's Singers Over Manhattan series.
"It's a fantastic adventure for me because I'm gospel my entire life," says Burrell, who was, in her words, "born and raised in the church." Her upbringing, says Burrell, comes through in her music. "It is the spirit. Everybody responds to love and purity and I try to put as much of that as I can into what I do. I'm proud to say that people are intrigued everyday and interested in what I do. I am very humbled. I just thank God."
Hailing from Houston, Texas, Burrell has been labeled by many as this generation's Ella Fitzgerald. She made her gospel music recording debut in 1995 and received a Grammy nomination for Best Soul Gospel Album in 2002. She began singing in the home. Her parents are both musicians and her mother is also a singer. At the age of five, Burrell formed, a long with her brother and two sisters, The Four K's (all their names began with the letter 'K'). "We sang in church all of our lives," says Burrell, "and as I grew older, the passion was still there for song and the gift was still there. People heard me and asked me to sing on their albums and one thing led to so many others. Here we are today and I don't regret a day of it. It has brought me to this kind of event," she says of her Jazz at Lincoln Center concerts.
Of her gospel roots, Burrell asserts that "Music goes back to the Bible. One of my greatest inspirations was my mother raising us reading the word of God to us and making sure that we knew that this was not just a talent that we had, but a commitment to God put to music. That's what my ministry is about, that's what my song is about: it is the word of God put to music."
Burrell tells concertgoers to expect a little change up on the traditional Christmas tunes: "I'm gonna bring it to church. I'm going to bring a revelation about some of our familiar Christmas songs. 'Silver Bells' will eventually become 'Joy Bells.' I've rearranged so many, I'm almost renaming them, but because of our history with these Christmas songs and carols, I won't do too much out of respect. But trust me... Rudolph is going to get a whole 'nother step!" She smiles. "I'm always going to bring out the Christ in Christmas!"
For more information, visit www.jalc.org.
Scott H. Thompson is Assistant Director for Public Relations at Jazz at Lincoln Center.