A Grammy Winner Salutes a Jazz Legend at the Brooklyn Center
The Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts’ 2016-2017 season has been a memorable one, filled with everything from international dance troupes to jazz greats to acrobats and children’s theater. One of the true highlights took place April 22 as Grammy Award-winning jazz singer Patti Austin paid homage to the late Ella Fitzgerald. Austin’s “Ella Now and Then: A Centennial Celebration of the First Lady of Song” celebrated Fitzgerald’s 100th birthday (she was born April 25, 1917). Austin also performed songs from her own forthcoming album, Ella: Now & Then – the follow-up to her 2002 Grammy-nominated album, For Ella.
Audience members were enthralled by Austin as she sang several Ella Fitzgerald standards, including “Mack the Knife” “April in Paris,” “Sing Me a Swing Song,” and “Lullaby of Birdland.” This show was also a history lesson for those not quite familiar with either jazz or the legendary singer. Austin kept the crowd entertained as she talked about intricate moments of Fitzgerald’s life as a vocalist. From her presence on stage, audience members could sense the respect and admiration that Austin has for Fitzgerald’s phenomenal voice and her contributions to music.
The following Saturday the Center presented the Dallas Children’s Theater production of Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale. Parents were able to take their kids or loved ones to this family-friendly production, which is a musical adaptation of Brooklyn native John Steptoe’s award-winning children’s book of the same name.
The Center, which in November hosted a cabaret show by East New York’s own Tony Danza, will present Chaka Khan on May 13 – her first appearance in our borough since she opened the 2015 Celebrate Brooklyn! season.