I Feel a Song Coming On: A Peek at the Eclectic Season of Lincoln Center's American Songbook

By Barry Singer
05 Jan 2013

Valerie Simpson
Valerie Simpson arrives on Jan. 31, offering a follow-up to the stirring concert she delivered this past summer at Lincoln Center Out of Doors commemorating the one-year anniversary of the passing of her longtime songwriting and singing partner, her husband, Nick Ashford. The following night, Simpson's funk will give way to cabaret chanteuse Karen Akers' refinement. Cabaret singers come in many flavors these days but few represent classic cabaret style with more polished, yet penetrating, panache than the mesmerizing Akers.

Songbook's first week closes out on Feb. 2 with Cécile McLorin Salvant, perhaps the most riveting new voice in jazz. Winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition, the 23-year-old, Florida-born singer was schooled in France, where she first garnered attention for her profoundly earthy sense of jazz classicism. Her concerts are both boldly theatrical and compellingly swinging occasions.

No Songbook season would be complete without a salute to Broadway by conductor Rob Fisher. On Feb. 6, with Ring Them Bells!, Fisher will celebrate John Kander and Fred Ebb, leading a stellar cast, slated to include Kander and Ebb veterans Joel Grey and Chita Rivera.