Entitled Ellington Etc., the star-studded benefit will boast the talents of Minnelli, jazz violinist Regina Carter, Grammy-winning jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves, dramatic soprano Deborah Voigt, Emmy-winning singer Nancy Wilson, the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and dancers from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Show time is 8:30 PM.
The annual spring gala begins with a reception at the Kennedy Center's Opera House at 5 PM followed by a 6 PM dinner on the Roof Terrace. The performance will commence at 8:30 PM followed by cocktails and dancing in the Roof Terrace Restaurant.
Born Edward Kennedy Ellington in April 1899 in Washington, D.C., Duke Ellington became an acclaimed pianist, conductor and composer. He arrived in New York in 1923 and appeared at the Cotton Club between the years 1927 and 1932. He began his annual Carnegie Hall concerts in 1943, and his stage scores included Beggar's Holiday, Blue Holiday and Pousse Café. His works have also been heard in such productions as Sophisticated Ladies, Stardust, Black and Blue, Play On! and Dream. Among Ellington's most famous compositions are "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," "I'm Beginning to See the Light," "In a Sentimental Mood," "Mood Indigo," "It Don't Mean a Thing," "Sophisticated Lady" and "Stardust." Duke Ellington died May 24, 1974 of lung cancer.
Liza Minnelli, an Oscar winner for her performance in Cabaret, was last on Broadway in a tribute to her late father entitled Minnelli on Minnelli; she returned to New York City's Beacon Theatre with her acclaimed concert Liza's Back! In addition to her Tonys for Flora, the Red Menace and The Act, Minnelli was awarded a special Tony in 1974 for "adding lustre to the Broadway season." Her film credits include "The Sterile Cuckoo," "Arthur," "New York, New York" and "Stepping Out." The singer is also a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actress. Her newest album, "Liza's Back!," is available on the J Records label.
Individual tickets for the Gala range from $500 to $1,000 with Gala packages priced $5,000-$50,000. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is located at 2700 F. Street, NW in Washington, D.C. For more information about the Gala, call (202) 416-8338. The Kennedy Center is located on the web at www.kennedy-center.org.