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The Magic of Mahalia

  • Mezzrow 163 West 10th Street New York, NY, 10014 United States (map)

Catskill Jazz Factory comes to Mezzrow: Brianna Thomas, the “best young straight-ahead jazz singer of her generation” (Wall Street Journal) draws on two titans of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson and Thomas Dorsey, in this modern take on the remarkable songs that reshaped America's sacred music.

In the 1930s, Thomas Dorsey, "the father of black Gospel music," met the Queen of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson, and began a 14-year musical and touring partnership. Jackson performed Dorsey’s most revered songs, including "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" (a favorite of Martin Luther King, Jr.) and "Peace in the Valley," songs that she would keep in her repertoire for her entire career.  Meanwhile, Dorsey was composing a songbook that would become a bedrock of modern Gospel music.

The brilliant young vocalist Brianna Thomas follows in the footsteps of these musical masters, joined by Marvin Sewell (guitar) and James Hurt (piano), in a passionate tribute to this emotional and uplifting repertoire. 

About Brianna Thomas: Brianna Thomas’  talents have propelled her to many successes including performances at the Montreux, North Sea, and Umbria Jazz Festivals and in venues ranging from the Bahamas to Geneva, Switzerland. Brianna was a resident in both the 2001 and 2002 Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Programs – an international artist-in-residence program that assembles a select group of jazz musicians to perform their original compositions at the Kennedy Center. At “Jazz Ahead” she worked with a host of premier jazz educators and performers including renowned vocalist Carmen Lundy, Winard Harper and Nathan Davis.

Brianna’s extensive list of stateside performances includes appearances with Fred Anderson, Von Freeman, Houston Person and the Barber Brothers. She has performed across the country from New Orleans to Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center. In 2001, Thomas was awarded "High School Jazz Vocalist of the Year" by DownBeat magazine. Notably, Brianna Thomas is the youngest person ever to be inducted into Peoria’s African-American Hall of Fame at the age of thirteen in 1996. She has also received a certificate of excellence from the state of Illinois in recognition of her musical accomplishments.