Jazz at the NCMA to kickoff this summer

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Museum of Art, NCMA, is launching the new series Jazz at the NCMA this summer.

The performances are part of the Museum’s Outdoor Performing Arts and Film series, presented by First Citizens Bank.

“Our campus is alive this summer with music, film, and dance,” said Museum Director Valerie Hillings. “We are excited to host our second annual Juneteenth weekend and kick off a new series celebrating jazz music outside in the Museum Park.”

Curated by Moses T. Alexander Greene, Jazz at the NCMA showcases the art form of jazz, often considered “America’s classical music.” This inaugural season includes 10-time Grammy-winning a cappella group Take 6, Latin jazz legend Arturo O’Farrill, interpretations of swing by vocalist Veronica Swift, emotionally searing songs of North Carolina native Nina Simone performed by Grammy-winning vocalist Ledisi, and more.

“Jazz at the NCMA emerged from Museum visitor requests for more live jazz on our campus,” said Greene, director of performing arts and film. “Through these performances, we hope concertgoers will experience joy and the transcendent power of one of America’s greatest exports to the world.”

Ledisi Sings Nina with special guest Al Strong

Ledisi is set to perform at 7:30 p.m. on June 23. Tickets for the show are $44.50 for NCMA members and $49.50 for nonmembers.

Powerhouse vocalist Ledisi takes on the legendary singer and musician Nina Simone’s emotionally searing, socially conscious songs on Ledisi Sings Nina, nominated for Outstanding Jazz Album, NAACP Image Awards. The 2021 Grammy Award-winning singer will perform a tribute to a true North Carolina treasure. She is joined by special guest Al Strong, a two-time Grammy-nominated trumpet player, composer, recording artist, and educator, and co-founder of the Art of Cool nonprofit, which spawned the original Art of Cool Music Festival in Durham, and the StArt of Cool youth summer camp.

Jonathan Butler with special guest Avery Sunshine

Jonathan Butler will take the museum’s outdoor stage at 7:30 p.m. June 30. Tickets for the show are $$31.50 for NCMA members and $35 for nonmembers.

Born in South Africa under the shadow of apartheid and raised in poverty, singer-songwriter and guitarist Jonathan Butler was the first Black artist to be played on white South African radio and to appear on national television. His first single won the South African equivalent to a Grammy and his commitment to his craft came to fruition with his self-titled debut album, which received a Grammy nomination for the pop hit “Lies.” Special guest Avery Sunshine, most known for the #1 Billboard chart hit single “Call My Name” from her critically heralded sophomore project The Sunroom, was awarded ASCAP’s Rhythm and Soul Song of the Year Award.

Take 6 with special guest Najee

Take 6 is set to perform at 7:30 p.m. on July 7. Tickets for the show are $$31.50 for NCMA members and $35 for nonmembers.

A 10-time Grammy Award–winning cappella group, Take 6 will present an evening of straight-ahead jazz, pop, adult R&B, doo-wop, and the blues.

Multiplatinum saxophonist and flutist Najee will begin the night with the best in contemporary jazz styling.

Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble with special guest Veronica Swift

Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble is set to perform at 7:30 p.m. on July 14.

Proclaimed by the New York Times as the “leader of the ‘first family of Afro-Cuban jazz,’” pianist, composer and educator Arturo O’Farrill began with the Carla Bley Band and continued as a solo performer with a wide spectrum of artists, including Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte. Special guest Veronica Smith recorded her first album, Veronica’s House of Jazz, when she was only nine years old. On This Bitter Earth, her most recent album, Swift covers multiple genres, including jazz, American musicals, vintage R&B, and contemporary rock.

Tickets for the show are $$31.50 for NCMA members and $35 for nonmembers.


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