Jane Monheit promises to bring a special jazz performance to Williamsburg

Staff writer

On Saturday, it’ll be just Jane Monheit’s voice and a baby grand piano.

Monheit, a Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist, will come to Williamsburg to perform an intimate concert at the Lane Auditorium courtesy of CultureFix.

“This show is a special duo appearance with my accompanist and beloved friend of 20 years, Michael Kanan. Our repertoire focuses on the Great American Songbook, interpreted in a way that reflects our deep love and respect for these composers and lyricists,” Monheit said.

The Great American Songbook is a collection of popular and influential American jazz songs form the early 20th century.

Monheit’s performance will represent a break from usual CultureFix programming fare, featuring just the singer with piano accompaniment in a new venue, said Steve Rose, CultureFix co-founder and president.

Monheit’s Williamsburg performance will feature a reception in the foyer prior to the concert. One drink ticket is included in the ticket price. Additional drinks will be available to buy, according to CultureFix’s website.

Monheit’s performance will be the first time CultureFix holds an event inside the Lane Auditorium. Rose said the venue will add a lot to the event’s atmosphere.

“It’s small and intimate, but beautiful,” Rose said.

While CultureFix has welcomed jazz performers before, Monheit is a high-profile performer.

“We haven’t had anything quite like this before,” Rose said of Monheit, who has received two Grammy nominations and has worked with jazz heavyweights such as John Pizzarelli and Michael Buble. “She’s a big name in jazz.”

She’s also the birthday girl. Rose expects to have a special celebratory recognition of Monheit’s birthday Saturday, which is the same day as the performance.

“Definitely look out for Michael to quote ‘Happy Birthday’ at least a zillion times during the show,” Monheit said. “I’ve spent many birthdays onstage with him, and it’s always an utter joy and a privilege.”

Monheit gives all the credit to the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald, as her primary musical influence. But not totally because of her style, according to Monheit’s website.

“What I really got from Ella is her warmth, her charm, the joy she puts in her music,” Monheit said on her website. “I learned that it’s OK to sing from a very happy place. I think there is a misconception that this kind of singing has to be always heavy and torchy. Ella showed us that it can be about total joy.”

Raised in Oakdale, N.Y., Monheit comes from a family of professional singers and musicians.

Monheit studied at the Manhattan School of Music and graduated in 1999. When she was 20 years old, she became first runner-up in the 1998 Thelonious Monk Institute’s vocal competition. She released her debut album soon afterward, according to her biography on her website.

Monheit has gone on to record multiple albums. Most recently, Monheit recorded a Fitzgerald tribute album called “The Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald.”

“This record is really different,” she says on her website. “It’s the first I’ve made a recording without a label and so I was able to make all the decisions myself. Honestly, when I listened back to the takes, I heard a different singer than I’ve heard before — a more mature one.”

Jane Monheit: An Intimate Evening of Jazz

When: 7-10 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Historic Lane Auditorium, 301 First St.

Cost: $36 per ticket

Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.

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