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Susquehanna Life

Jazz Vocalist Blends Old and New into Something Entirely Her Own

Oct 03, 2019 03:16PM ● By Erica Shames

Possessing an airy, light voice with a sly touch, jazz vocalist Kat Edmonson will perform on Thursday, October 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Weis Center for the Performing Arts. Edmonson brings both the songs and the sensibility of the Great American Songbook into the 21st century. 

The performance is sponsored, in part, by Bold Gold Media.

With a sweetly mellifluous soprano echoing Blossom Dearie’s lighter-than-air approach as well as her gift for evocative songwriting, the 35-year-old is a rare artist who embodies the spirit of the past while remaining resolutely au courant. 

A Texas native and Brooklyn transplant, Edmonson forged her sound performing in small rooms and clubs before touring worldwide and performing with Lyle Lovett, Chris Isaak, Jaime Cullum and Gary Clark, Jr. In less than a decade since, Edmonson has emerged as one of the most distinctive performers in contemporary American music.

Her unusually charming and seamless blend of old and new has garnered attention on NPR Tiny Desk concert, Austin City Limits TV, and A Prairie Home Companion.  Other notable appearances include one of David Letterman’s final Late Night shows with Western Swing masters Asleep at the Wheel and Woody Allen’s film, Café Society backed up by New York’s premiere jazz ensemble, Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks.  In 2018, Edmonson released her cinematically inspired, fourth album, Old Fashioned Gal to warm critical acclaim. The Associated Press describes Edmonson, "Part bashful debutante, part starry-eyed fiancée, part world-wise seductress, her voice possesses a singular expressiveness." 

As a child, Edmonson latched on to old black-and-white movies while watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers fall in love through snappy, song-and-dance numbers. She also spent hours combing through her mother’s record collection featuring soundtracks to old musicals, jazz standards, and big-band hits. Although she draws inspiration from classic Hollywood movies and a bygone time, Edmonson does not reflect too heavily on the past, often saying in interviews that she is grateful to be here today, in this day and age. Her music that has that 1930’s, ‘40s, and ‘50s flair but her own songs are of modern love and life.

Her first three albums all exude a twinkly throwback charm, taking form in jazz-cabaret, folksy indie, and vintage pop. Her independently produced debut album Take to the Sky (2009) drew on America’s timeless Tin Pan Alley songwriters, Gershwin, and Cole Porter, and ended up on the Top 20 of the Billboard jazz charts. A critic for the Boston Globe called her second album Way Down Low, “one of the greatest vocal albums I’ve ever heard.” Her third, The Big Picture, took greater advantage of her songwriter abilities. A critic for the NPR noted, “She’s a savvy student of ‘60s film soundtracks, jazz-pop stylists, and Brill Building songcraft.” The Austin Chronicle wrote that her songs emerge “fresh and dewy…Edmonson’s voice swells and dips and weaves with effortless precision, arresting without belting.”

Her latest album, Old Fashioned Gal is rich in affection for the past but bracingly alive in the present. In it, Edmonson tells a story- a classic Hollywood “movie” that took shape in Edmonson’s imagination as she began to write. These songs have all the feeling and the craft, even the entertaining bounce, of the Great American Songbook, from Irving Berlin to Joni Mitchell but they are unmistakably Kat Edmonson’s songs, taking the full measure of her own voice. The inimitable voice in which she sings is a musical prism, crystalline and precise, refracting and transforming what shines through it. The voice in which she writes is clear, intensely aware and to the point- an “old fashioned gal” in the here and now.

Associated Press says, “Kat Edmonson’s Old Fashioned Gal sounds like an alternate soundtrack to an Audrey Hepburn film, 11 self-penned songs of gentle romance and vulnerability in a decades-old style sparkling with modern sensibilities... and then there’s her voice. Part bashful debutante, part starry-eyed fiancée, part world-wise seductress, it possesses a singular expressiveness.” 

Tickets for the Weis Center performance are $20 for adults, $16 for seniors 62+, $10 for youth 18 and under, $10 for Bucknell employees and retirees (limit 2), $10 for Bucknell students (limit 2), and $10 for non-Bucknell college students (limit 2). Tickets can be purchased online at Bucknell.edu/BoxOffice or by calling 570-577-1000.


Tickets are also available in person from several locations including the Weis Center lobby (weekdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and the CAP Center Box Office, located on the ground floor of the Elaine Langone Center (weekdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

For more information about this event, contact Lisa Leighton, marketing and outreach director, at 570-577-3727 or by e-mail at lisa.leighton@bucknell.edu.

For more information about the Weis Center for the Performing Arts, go to Bucknell.edu/WeisCenter or search for the Weis Center on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. 


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