Angélique Kidjo (06/20/2010)
Raised amongst political turmoil and artistic restrictions, Angélique Kidjo’s globally recognized talent is a testament to the power of music to overcome adversity. Raised in war-torn Benin, Kidjo made her first public appearance as a child with her mother’s theatre troupe, singing traditional anthems to audiences of friends and family. By her teenage years, the chanteuse was on the radio waves with jazz and soul-inspired pieces.
After moving to Paris, Kidjo focused on finding her niche in the community, recording three albums with Pili Pili, a Euro-African Jazz group. She eventually signed as a solo artist with Island Records in 1991. The singer’s unique blend of her heritage with traditions from Latin America, gospel, Afro-pop, and rumba combined with multi-lingual lyrics led the world music revolution in the 1990’s.
The GRAMMY-winning artist’s influence has spanned the globe, gaining fans and collaborators from Alicia Keys and Peter Gabriel to Branford Marsalis and Carlos Santana. Her powerful messages have been recognized by the NAACP, Amnesty International, and UNICEF, for whom she is a Goodwill Ambassador, among many others. Kidjo’s own charity, the Batonga Foundation, raises funding, builds schools, and implements change for Africa’s underprivileged girls.
OYO is Kidjo’s latest offering, a collection of pieces that inspired her as a child and songs reminiscent of her musical upbringing. Released in Europe earlier this year, the album features a collaboration with John Legend and Bono on Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up,” a remake of Aretha Franklin’s “Baby I Love You,” and the first song she performed publicly at the age of six, “Atcha Houn,” a traditional parade song. Her eleventh recording, OYO is a look into the soul and fire of the performer.
Currently residing in New York City, Angélique Kidjo’s relevancy and empowerment as a voice for change continues to grow. Stern Grove Festival is proud to welcome her to kick off our 73rd Season!
The ability to translate a lifetime of turmoil into a universally recognizable message of harmony through beat and melody is the true definition of a successful artist. Lamine Fellah, a native of Algeria and citizen of the globe, originally founded Sarazino in 1995 as a way to reach out to politically and ideologically fractured societies after his father was assassinated by religious extremists.
Out of Montreal, Canada, Fellah’s Sarazino released its first album in 1997, Et Puis Voila, with songs sung in French combined with traditional West African and Algerian musical influences. After relocating to Ecuador, Fellah began producing other artists and reformed Sarazino for 2003’s release Mundo Babilon on Putumayo.
Sarazino’s most recent incarnation melds vocalists Revelino Aguidissou and Fellah with Spanish poet Isidro Garcia’s inspired lyrical anthems. Ecuardorian guitarist Pablo Estrella and guest artists from reggae crooner Toots Hibbert, of Toots and the Maytals, to Blanquito Man of the ska band King Chango round out Ya Foy!. Released in Fall 2009 on the Cumbancha label, the album’s all-encompassing Latin and reggae influences pound out catchy tunes with social and political awareness.
Join in Sarazino’s global party at Stern Grove Festival this summer!
HAPA has been sharing the majesty of the Hawaiian Islands with audiences all over the world for over twenty-five years. Founded by native New Yorker Barry Flanagan in 1983, HAPA, a term used to describe a person of mixed heritage, has evolved to include award-winning Kuma Hula, Charles Ka’upu, a specialist in the tradition of oli, or Polynesian chant, and Nathan Aweau, a multi-faceted musician and a staple in the Hawaiian music community.
HAPA’s wide breadth of musical acumen stems from the diversity of its members’ experiences. While rooted in the language and chord structure of mele (traditional song) the group incorporates elements of jazz, Americana, rock, and folk. The result is a catalog of soothing melodies and transformative rhythms.
Flanagan’s interest in the slack-key guitar led him to Maui in the early ‘80’s, where he fell in love with the peace, tranquility, and richness of the art community on the island. The singer/songwriter immersed himself in learning the musical traditions of the islands and was heralded for his ability to adapt the Hawaiian language to popular tastes, winning the Haku Mele Award for “Lei Pikake,” now a classic love song. Joined by Charles Ka’upu in 1993, the group started to take form as a foremost interpreter of Hawaii’s musical heritage by incorporating oli and hula.
The group’s self-titled debut album was released in 1993 to wide critical acclaim, winning six Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, the Hawaiian equivalent of the GRAMMYs, and, to this day, maintaining the title of the highest-selling CD by a Hawaiian group or duo. In 1999, the group released Namahana. 2005 saw the meteoric success of their third full-length album, Maui, and the addition of Nathan Aweau, an accomplished musician and vocalist. Maui was featured in Rolling Stone Japan, The New York Times, and was profiled as part of a documentary series for National Geographic, including special performances by the artists in Washington, D.C.
HAPA’s latest offering, Slacking Off, takes a more relaxed approach to the melding of the trio’s cultures, featuring traditional melodies overlaying folk bass lines, incorporating southern rock rhythms and vocals while maintaining the island vibe that is their trademark sound.
Academy of Hawaiian Arts (06/20/2010)
Based in the East Bay, the Academy of Hawaiian Arts (AHA) is a major force in promoting the preservation of traditional Hawaiian culture through education. Founded in 2003 by Kumu Hula (master teacher) Mark Keali’l Ho’omalu, the hula halau, or dance school, incorporates all aspects of performance including mele (traditional song), oli (chant), and instrumentation. Originally from Oahu, Ho’omalu focuses on “keeping the past alive while creating the future,” evolving and developing the art of hula.
Usually featuring multiple dancers and accompanying percussion, AHA performs Kupaianahula, or firm style, where artists syncopate their movements with precision, telling the stories and fables of the islands. Under Ho’omalu’s direction, AHA has gained worldwide recognition, performing in venues across the globe and as a regular staple at the prestigious Merrie Monarch competition in Hilo, Hawai’i.
AHA offers educational classes, including poetry, language, and a musical performance group, AHAmele, to students of all ages and skill levels, promoting itself as a “steward of Hawaiian heritage.” AHA’s exquisite and unique performances breathe new life to this centuries old art form.
San Francisco Opera (07/04/2010)
San Francisco Opera, featuring bass-baritone John Relyea and soprano Patricia Racette, will return to Stern Grove on Sunday, July 4th, 2010 at 2:00 p.m.. Conductor Ian Roberston will lead the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in “A Celebration of American Music,” with pieces from the most revered and recognized composers, including George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and John Philip Sousa among many more. Relyea and Racette will be joined by San Francisco Opera Program Adler Fellows: Susannah Biller, Leah Crocetto, Sara Gartland, sopranos; Brian Jagde, tenor; and Austin Kness, baritone.
John Relyea - Winner of the 2003 Richard Tucker Award and the 2009 Beverly Sills Award, John Relyea continues to distinguish himself as one of today's finest bass-baritones. The former Adler Fellow and Merola Opera Program alumnus made his 1996 San Francisco Opera debut as Colline in La Bohème and has since returned to the Company in more than twenty roles, including Angelotti (Tosca), Hobson (Peter Grimes), Count Ribbing (Un Ballo in Maschera), and most recently the title role of The Marriage of Figaro. Relyea has appeared in many of the world’s finest opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera; the Santa Fe Opera; Seattle Opera; the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; Paris Opera; and Munich State Opera. The bass-baritone has recorded Idomeneo and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 for EMI and appears on the Metropolitan Opera’s DVD presentations of Don Giovanni, I Puritani and Die Meistersinger von Nüremberg (Deutche Grammophon), and Macbeth (Metropolitan Opera HD Live Series).
Patricia Racette - Acclaimed soprano Patricia Racette proudly traces the roots of her career to San Francisco Opera, where she participated in both the Merola and Adler Fellowship Programs. She made her main-stage Company debut in 1989 as Mistress Ford in student performances of Falstaff and celebrates her twentieth anniversary with San Francisco Opera this season. Her leading roles with the Company include Desdemona (Otello), Violetta (La Traviata), Antonia (Les Contes d’Hoffmann), Mimì (La Bohème), and the title roles of Luisa Miller, Jenůfa, and Madama Butterfly. A champion of new works, the soprano has created roles in several world premieres, the most recent of which was her portrayal of Leslie Crosbie in Paul Moravec’s The Letter for the Santa Fe Opera this past summer. Among Racette’s European credits are leading roles at La Scala, Covent Garden, Paris Opera, the Vienna State Opera, Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, and Bavarian State Opera.
San Francisco Symphony (07/11/2010)
The San Francisco Symphony gave its first concerts in 1911 and has grown in acclaim under a succession of music directors: Henry Hadley, Alfred Hertz, Basil Cameron, Issay Dobrowen, Pierre Monteux, Enrique Jordá, Josef Krips, Seiji Ozawa, Edo de Waart, Herbert Blomstedt, and, since 1995, Michael Tilson Thomas. The SFS has won such recording awards as France’s Grand Prix du Disque and Britain’s Gramophone Award, and the MTT/SFS Mahler recording cycle, inaugurated in 2001 and released on the Symphony’s own label, has won seven major Grammys. Adventures in Music, the longest running education program among US orchestras, reaches every child in grades 1 through 5 in San Francisco’s public schools. Keeping Score, the Symphony’s program designed to make classical music accessible to all, is seen on PBS-TV and is available on DVD and via the Web site keepingscore.org. San Francisco Symphony recordings are available at sfsymphony.org/store.
Caravan Palace (07/18/2010)
Caravan Palace brings traditional jazz “manouche” into the twenty-first century with their “electro-swing” style. The group was founded in Paris in 2005 by trio Hugues Payen (violin), Arnaud Vial (guitar), and Charles Delaporte (double bass) when they met working on a film project. The Parisians rounded out the ensemble through an extensive online search, adding Zoé Colotis (chanteuse), Camille Chapiliére (clarinetist), Antoine Toustou (“machines”/trombone), and Charles Delaporte (guitar/DJ) a year after the project was picked up and nurtured by producer Loïc Barrouk.
Heavily influenced by the Zazous, a dissident youth subculture in Paris during World War II, Caravan Palace incorporate the bebop and swing jazz of iconic musicians Cab Calloway and Billie Holiday. Vocalist Zoé Colotis’ doo-wop styled lyrics in French and English meet pulsating trance beats on chorus breaks. The originality of their composition landed Caravan Palace a spot at 2007’s Django Reinhardt Jazz Festival, launching the group into the mainstream.
Their debut self-titled album was released in 2008 and immediately hit the charts, reaching #11 in Europe. The wild popularity of the single “Jolie Coquine” was a harbinger of things to come and fostered a resurgence of interest in the art of jazz and scat. Caravan Palace’s success continued with the recent release of the single “Suzy,” an almost New Wave approach to classic swing rhythms.
Stern Grove Festival welcomes the band to San Francisco for one of their first North American festival appearances.
DePedro is the brainchild and solo project of accomplished guitarist and vocalist Jairo Zavala. After success as a songwriter and a touring musician for Calexico, Zavala has found his ground performing his own inspired works. Born and raised in Madrid, Spain, the guitarist’s influences can be found in flamenco, blues, Afrobeat, and the rock of the 1970’s and ‘80’s.
After founding popular groups Vacazul and 3000 Hombres, Zavala’s composition and lyricism got him noticed by the Spanish singer/guitarist Amparanoia in 1997, which led to Zavala joining Tex-Mex rock group Calexico on a global tour in 2004.
An extremely talented musician educated in the art of the Spanish guitar, Zavala infuses his sultry Latin grooves with mellow blues and folk rhythms. His self-titled debut album was recorded at Calexico’s studios in 2007. Utilizing a vast pool of collaborators, Zavala’s brilliant melodies are accentuated with Latin inspired horns, touches of Caribbean beats, and harmonizing back-up vocals. Recently, he performed as DePedro at the prestigious WOMAD Festival and South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.
For over twenty year, Italian superstar Lorenzo Cherubini has been a fixture on the European music charts. Known by the moniker “Jovanotti,” an Anglicized translation of “young man,” the artist’s ever-evolving sound has made him one of the most popular Italian artists. Jovanotti launched his career as a radio DJ and released his debut album in 1988. Taking cues from hip-hop and rap, his work melds spoken word with lyrical choruses and a definitively European aesthetic, reminiscent of the beat poets.
Quickly becoming a pop sensation, Jovanotti was the first Italian to work for MTV, hosting “Earth to MTV,” a program that was one of the first to embrace a “world beat” in the early 1990’s. As his career became global, so did the content of his music. Turning his attentions to issues of poverty and oppression, Jovanotti’s anthems took on political and social undertones, leading to work with Amnesty International and Make Poverty History. 1994 saw the breakout of his sixth full-length album and the hit single “Serenata Rap,” with the video earning the most played title on MTV Europe. For Jovanotti’s seventh album, Lorenzo 1997: L’albero, he traveled to South Africa to record with local musicians, bringing a new flair to his Euro-pop house beats. The album was his first to reach the top spot on Italian charts, a feat he has achieved with the three subsequent records.
As Jovanotti’s sound evolved from produced Euro-house hip-hop to more melodic anthems and ballads, artists spanning the globe reached out to work with him. Recently, the troubadour’s list of collaborations has included Bono, Michael Franti, Sergio Mendes, and Ben Harper, on the lyrically soothing “Fango.” Jovanotti’s latest album, Safari, became the top-selling album of 2008 in Italy. Recorded in Los Angeles, Tuscany, Rio de Janeiro, Hannover, and Milan, the album introduced the Italian icon to a more global audience. Jovanotti followed up with an acoustic tour of New York, dubbed “Soleluna NY Lab.” The live recordings were released as a digital download last December under the title Oyeah.
Jovanotti is currently touring the United States, and Stern Grove Festival is pleased to welcome the Italian star to San Francisco.
Bomba Estéreo (07/25/2010)
Colombian sensation Bomba Estéreo represents a new generation of Latin American artists, embracing the traditional rhythms of their hometowns and adding their own flavor of funk. Led by DJ and bassist Simon Mejia, the group took form in 2005 when spunky vocalist and MC Liliana Saumet added her high-energy stage antics and youthful exuberance to their instrumental tracks.
Dubbed as “psychedelic cumbia,” Bomba Estéreo’s party beats are pulled from the traditional Colombian rhythms of bullerengue and champeta, an African-influenced sound found in the neighborhoods surrounding Cartagena. In a recent interview with Spinner Magazine, Mejia and Saumet described their flair as “a mixture of the Caribbean Ocean and the Andes Mountains, with a bit of traffic and some Bogota smog,” a fitting assessment of the songs that have been featured everywhere from NPR to South by Southwest to McDonald’s commercials.
Bomba Estéreo’s second full-length album, Blow Up, launched them on an international level in 2008, featuring singles “Fuego” and “Huepaje.” Backing Saumet are percussionists Diego Cadavid and Kike Egurrola with guitarist Julain Salaza, rounding out the electro-heavy dance hall tunes for explosive live performances.
Rickie Lee Jones (08/01/2010)
Dubbed “The Duchess of Coolsville” by TIME magazine, Rickie Lee Jones has been on the forefront of folk and blues since 1979. A transient youth brought Jones a full understanding of different Americana cultures and music. Bouncing between Arizona, Chicago, and Washington, Jones finally ran away to Venice, CA as a teenager, waiting tables and attending college while she spent the nights sharpening her performances in local clubs. By the age of twenty-one, Jones’ unique vocals had gotten her noticed on the local scene. While playing with bands around Los Angeles, she recorded a demo with manager Nick Mathe, sparking a bidding war between three major labels, with Warner Brothers winning out.
Jones’ first recordings reflect a jazz influenced repertoire. Her hits “Easy Money,” “Last Chance Texaco,” and “Chuck E’s in Love” showed a maturity and understanding of classic songwriting not common in the genre at the time and continue to be some of her most popular works. Her talent propelled Warner Brothers to book her as the musical act on “Saturday Night Live” a week after her self-titled debut album was released in March 1979. An immediate phenomenon, Jones was soon sought out by TIME magazine and Rolling Stone Magazine, and by various artists wishing to collaborate. By 1980, she was nominated for five Grammies, taking home the title of “Best New Artist.”
By 1981, Jones had recorded another commercially successful album, snagged another cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, and completed several tours. The rest of the eighties were an experimental time for Jones, who began altering her jazz and blues melodies with synthesizer and a decidedly indie approach. But by 1990, she was once again noticed for her jazz standards, winning a GRAMMY for Best Jazz Vocal Collaboration with Dr. John for “Makin’ Whoopee.” Numerous albums and tours later, Jones is still creating magic. Her most recent release, 2009’s Balm in Gilead harkens back to the songs of her youth and a renewal of Jones’ love of classic jazz.
Meklit Hadero (08/01/2010)
Singer, musician, and self-described “cultural activist” Meklit Hadero is the modern epitome of a Renaissance woman. With a background in political science and non-profit administration, Hadero’s journey to sought-after singer/songwriter has taken her across borders and genres. The Ethiopian-born chanteuse grew up in Brooklyn and Iowa, settling in San Francisco in 2004 and quickly becoming a part of the flourishing underground arts scene.
Former Director and current Artist-in-Residence of the Red Poppy Art Gallery, Hadero’s fluid poetry set to her sweet melodies is influenced by a deep understanding of socio-cultural issues and a passion for the beauty in the everyday. Her 2007 recording Eight Songs led to a bevy of prestigious arts grants, including the TED Global Fellowship and a San Francisco Arts Foundation grant for the creation of the ensemble Nefasha Ayer, as well as featured spots on NPR.
Hadero’s first full-length album, On a Day Like Today, was released this spring on San Francisco’s own Porto Franco Records. The sometimes somber, sultry album relies heavily on the influence of the classic jazz sirens, with touches of her Ethiopian heritage in songs translated to Amharic, and Hadero’s unique West Coast perspective. Meklit Hadero is one of the Bay Area’s treasures, performing at venues like Café Du Nord, The Independent, Bottom of the Hill, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
San Francisco Ballet (8/8/2010)
San Francisco Ballet returns to Stern Grove Festival with artists of the Company performing a selection of works from their current repertory. Renowned for its incomparable level of innovation and exuberance, San Francisco Ballet is one of the premier ballet companies in America.
Helgi Tomasson, Artistic Director
Maceo Parker (08/15/2010)
A founding icon of funk, Maceo Parker is “the living breathing pulse that connects the history of Funk in one golden thread.” Taken under his uncle’s wing as a young boy, Parker picked up the alto saxophone and was blowing out tunes on stage by the age of ten. As a music student in North Carolina in the 1960’s, Parker negotiated his way on to James Brown’s backing band with his brother, Melvin, a percussionist. While he planned on returning to school after a couple months on the road, the fateful meeting launched over four decades of Parker’s reign as the most sought-after funk saxophonist.
Throughout the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s, Parker was an integral member of James Brown’s sound, recording more then ten albums together. In addition to his legendary collaboration with the Godfather of Soul, Parker founded Maceo and All the Kings’ Men, Maceo and the Macks, toured and recorded with Parliament-Funk, fostered a solo career, and completed a tour with the U.S. Military. The busy musician’s lightning fast fingers and ability to infuse his own brand of funk into each piece made him one the top saxophone players of the last four decades.
Students of James Brown and the Parliament Funk schools of musical philosophy were soon looking to Parker to help them keep the funk alive. The saxophonist has inspired and collaborated with The Dave Matthews Band, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, De La Soul, Prince, and many more.
Parker’s own solo career came to the forefront in the early 1990’s. Building on his popularity as an ensemble player, Roots Revisited (1990) and Mo’ Roots (1991) proved to audiences that Parker could command the stage as a band leader and star in his own right. It wasn’t until 1992’s Life on Planet Groove that Parker’s music began to leap across generations and genres. In 2007, Parker released his eleventh solo album, Roots and Grooves, a series of live recordings featuring a big band sound and proving that the artist is keeping the funk alive.
Bay area soul icon Darondo, also known as William Pulliam, is somewhat of a legendary mystery man. Darondo gained popularity in the early 1970’s with his piercing falsettos and gravely bass. His range and artistic resonance made him immediately popular, launching three R&B singles onto the airwaves, including the well-known “Didn’t I.”
Darondo’s outsized personality caught the attention of public access audiences across the Bay, and he gained a faithful following as a nighttime talk show host, cultivating an image as a smooth talking lothario and wizened king of soul. The crooner left the industry soon after gaining the ear of music enthusiasts, stepping out of spotlight to focus on family life and a career in physical therapy.
In 2001, BBC DJ Gilles Peterson renewed mass interest in the soul singer when he added “Didn’t I” to his regular rotation. 2006 saw the release of Darondo’s first LP, Let My People Go, featuring his five re-mastered hits and three previously unreleased tracks. Dubbed one of NPR’s artists to watch at South by Southwest in 2008, Darondo’s work has taken on new meaning for another generation of music fans.
They Might Be Giants (08/22/2010)
Founders and mainstays of the modern alternative rock movement, John Linnell and John Flansburgh have been creating quirky, catchy songs as They Might Be Giants (known to fans as TMBG) for almost three decades. The two met in their Rhode Island high school but did not start playing together until the pair moved to Brooklyn in 1981. The project began as a duo with Linnell on accordion, saxophone, and maneuvering a drum machine and Flansburgh on the guitar. Recording their songs on an answering machine with advertisements in the Village Voice, dubbed “Dial-A-Song”, TMBG caught their break with a 1982 demo cassette and a subsequent deal with Bar None Records.
They Might Be Giant’s self-titled debut album was released in 1986, but it was not until 1988’s Lincoln that their single “Ana Ng” caught the attention of the mainstream media, reaching #11 on US Modern Rock Charts. In the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, TMBG expanded, bringing in a backing band that allowed their sound to evolve from a tech heavy performance to more instrument-driven tunes. Flood (1990), the group’s third full-length album, was their first to go Gold and spawned instant hits, “Birdhouse in Your Soul” and “Istanbul (not Constantinople),” which remain some of their most popular selections.
After fourteen full-length albums and three decades, TMBG is still at the forefront of experimentation. Previous work in children’s programming has led to four children’s albums, one of which earned a GRAMMY, soundtracks for numerous television shows and movies, including “The Daily Show” and “Malcolm in the Middle”, and recognition as the first band to release an exclusively digital album in MP3 format. The band’s range and ability to develop musically allowed them to retain relevancy. Their most recent release, 2009’s Here Comes Science, caters to their younger fans, but they are planning to release another rock album later this year. While their sound has altered slightly, sometimes taking on heavier rock sounds, sometimes more light-hearted anthems, their geek rock personae has endeared them to unwavering fans throughout their career.
Rogue Wave (08/22/2010)
Rogue Wave was formed in 2002 after Zach Rogue lost his tech job and parted ways with the Oakland rock group Desoto Reds. Based in Oakland, the local indie rocker’s guitar heavy melodies and dreamy, sweeping lyrics were partnered with Pat Sturgeon’s flowing percussion and expressive keyboards in 2002. Since then, the group has developed a reputation for crafting catchy pop songs punctuated by psychedelic guitars and intricate rhythms.
Their first album, Out of the Shadow, was released in 2004, but it wasn’t until 2005’s Descended Like Vultures that Rogue Wave attained broader recognition. 2007’s follow-up, Asleep at Heaven’s Gate, continued the streak, earning indie anthem “California” significant airplay.
The band toured with Death Cab for Cutie, Jack Johnson, Spoon, The Clientele and The Shins and their music was featured in movies and television shows such as “Napoleon Dynamite,” “Heroes,” “Weeds,” “Nip/Tuck,” and, most recently, “Up in the Air.”
In September 2008, after the band returned to Oakland following a summer tour, Rogue played a solo show opening for Nada Surf. Two days later, the singer woke up and couldn't move; he had slipped two discs in his neck, which were pressing on his spinal cord. After recovering from this temporary paralysis, Rogue sought to create a collection of music to inspire movement. 2010’s Permalight, an optimistic perspective on life and love, achieves this goal with danceable hooks and punchy pop tunes.