To Billie With Love: A Celebration of Lady Day

Dee Dee Bridgewater
Dee Dee Bridgewater. Photo by Mark Higashino.

On Friday June 24, 2011 at 8:00 PM, the Town Hall (located at 123 W. 43rd St.), Times Square’s landmark concert venue, will present a Blue Note Jazz Festival event, “To Billie With Love A Celebration of Lady Day” by famed jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater with guest artist Chrisette Michele, who is produced in association with Jill Newman Productions. Dee Dee Bridgewater will perform a tribute to the legendary Billie Holiday that will feature selections from Bridgewater’s latest recording, “Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie With Love From Dee Dee,” for which Ms. Bridgewater received the 2011 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album. She will sing and scat her way to a fresh interpretation of Holiday’s signature melodies, accompanied by the quartet of Edsel Gomez (piano), Kenny Davis (bass), Jaz Sawyer (drums) and Craig Handy (reeds).

Dee Dee Bridgewater is a Tony Award winner, UN Ambassador and NPR radio host. One of the most lauded vocalists of our time, she brings her considerable talent and precise interpretations to renowned songs that have endured to become timeless classics. As a child, her mother played for her the greatest albums of Ella Fitzgerald, whose artistry provided an inspiration for Dee Dee throughout her career. She toured the Soviet Union in 1969 with the University of Illinois Big Band and made her New York debut in 1970 as the lead vocalist for the band led by Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, one of the premier jazz orchestras of the time. She appeared in concerts and recorded with such giants as Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Max Roach, Stanley Clarke and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. In 1974, she jumped at the chance to act and sing on Broadway, where her voice, beauty and stage presence won her great success and a Tony Award for her role as Glinda the Good Witch in “The Wiz.” This began a long line of awards and accolades as well as opportunities to work in Tokyo, Los Angeles, Paris and in London, where she received the coveted Laurence Olivier Award nomination as Best Actress for her tour de force portrayal of jazz legend Billie Holiday in Stephen Stahl’s “Lady Day.” Performing the lead in equally demanding acting/singing roles as “Sophisticated Ladies,” “Cosmopolitan Greetings,” “Black Ballad,” “Carmen Jazz” and the musical “Cabaret” (the first black actress to star as Sally Bowles), she secured her reputation as a consummate entertainer.

Chrisette Michele
Chrisette Michele. Photo courtesy of Jill Newman Productions.

Chrisette Michele, a Grammy Award winning R&B vocalist, will make her Town Hall debut and her first professional foray into the world of jazz in this evening. She’ll return to her roots, paying tribute to three jazz icons she credits as her biggest influences: Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan, backed by her own jazz trio. Michele’s three releases, all on the Def Jam label, are unmistakably R&B records, but have hinted at her love for jazz in her style and even in her lyrics. She won a Grammy for her ’09 song, “Be Ok.” Michele will add her own R&B flavor to standards made famous by Ella, Billie and Sarah. She will also scat solos throughout, a craft she studied diligently as a youth and through her higher education.


Now celebrating its 90th Anniversary Season, The Town Hall was built in 1921 by a group of suffragettes and began as a lecture hall and public forum for debates where “American Town Meetings on The Air” was broadcast live for 25 years. Over the decades, the stage has been graced by Eleanor Roosevelt, Carl Sandberg, Margaret Sanger, Billie Holiday, Igor Stravinsky, Bob Dylan and Miles Davis. Today the hall flourishes as a popular, affordable venue, boasting the hottest acts in rock, pop, folk, cabaret, world music, comedy and dance including Billy Joel, Blondie, Elvis Costello, Natalie Merchant, Graham Nash, Liza Minnelli, Cyndi Lauper, Norah Jones, Andre Watts, Henry Rollins, Joe Jackson, Pink Martini, Regina Spector, Brian Adams, Aimee Mann, Robin Williams, Dawn Upshaw, Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Al Gore, Bruce Springsteen, Jay Leno, Dave Matthews, Vanessa Williams, and Ben Folds. For over two decades, The Town Hall has hosted live broadcasts of Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion.” Over the past two-and-a-half decades, The Town Hall has produced the Feature Film Seminar Series and a number of new and critically acclaimed musical series, which include The Century of Change, Not Just Jazz, Broadway By The Year, The Broadway Cabaret Festival and The Summer Broadway Festival. (

The Town Hall will present “To Billie with Love: A Celebration of Lady Day” on Friday, June 24, 2011 at 8:00 PM for one night only. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster by visiting or calling (800)982-2787 or by visiting the Town Hall Box Office, open Mondays – Saturdays from noon until 6PM.