American Songbook 2024 Spotlights Change-Makers, Embracing Individuality Through Performance
Indigo Girls, John Holiday, Justin Vivian Bond, and Nona Hendryx
Celebration of Musical Theater with RENT by Deaf Broadway and
Live Album Recording of Off-Broadway’s Running Man
Tribute to Poet Phillis Wheatley Peters with AFROPUNK
Free Performances from Jeremy Dutcher, Crys Matthews, Author Jacqueline Woodson and more
March 12 – April 12, 2024
NEW YORK, NY (January 30, 2024) – Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (LCPA) today announced the 2024 American Songbook series, taking over four Lincoln Center venues for an exploration of self-expression and powerful musical storytelling. This season highlights historic change-makers and contemporary artist-advocates who have redrawn musical boundaries and inspire a celebration of individuality.
“This season’s American Songbook performers are a testament to the transformative power of music and the boundless creativity of artists who look beyond the status quo,” said Shanta Thake, Ehrenkranz Chief Artistic Officer, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. “We invite audiences to witness groundbreaking performances, experience new interpretations of beloved songs and discover new sounds that embody the richness of the American music canon.”
March 12 to April 12, audiences can experience a diverse range of genres, from musical theater, opera and blues to folk rock, sci-fi inspired funk, and the melodies of the 1960s counterculture.
American Songbook kicks off with three concerts in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room. The iconic Nona Hendryx opens the series on March 12, performing her new show Songs From the Nonaverse and Other Dream Machines, a funk rock and sci-fi inspired soundscape, and precursor to the June 2024 premiere of the site-specific, mixed-reality activation The Dream Machine Experience, commissioned by Lincoln Center. Next, Justin Vivian Bond, the powerhouse pop chanteuse, interprets songs from some of the most influential artists and activists of the 1960s with Jasmine and Cigarettes: Songs from the Hippy Counterculture (1963-1975). Countertenor John Holiday–lauded for his leading roles with the world’s most prestigious opera companies and his turn as a finalist on The Voice–returns to Lincoln Center with a solo showcase, drawing from the classical and popular music canons.
The influential singer-songwriter duo Indigo Girls, take the stage for an incredible night of story and song in David Geffen Hall. Between performances of their greatest hits and deep cuts, the two share little-known stories on their creative process and career, with conversation led by NPR Music critic Ann Powers.
In a celebration of the rich and multifaceted American musical theater canon, two incredible works are being explored, starting with Jonathan Larson’s RENT Deaf Broadway brings excerpts of this groundbreaking iteration of the Tony-winning musical to life, performed in American Sign Language by a full cast of seasoned Deaf performers from Broadway and Hollywood, with the original Broadway cast album and dynamic captions underscoring a thrilling, one-night-only event.
Many of theater’s most successful works have been rediscovered by new audiences through cast albums, a crucial element of any musical legacy. On April 7 and 8, the Off-Broadway jazz musical Running Man finally gets its due. As part of the Cast Album Project, this Obie Award-winning and Pulitzer Prize finalist work gets a full concert album performance and recording, preserving this piece of history from composer Diedre Murray and poet Cornelius Eady for future generations.
Two American Songbook performances illustrate the impact of the written word on music creation, highlighting beloved historic and contemporary writers. First, Lincoln Center and AFROPUNK present a musical and spoken word tribute to the trailblazing poet Phillis Wheatley Peters on March 22, widely recognized as the first African American to publish a book of poetry. Lincoln Center’s poet-in-residence Mahogany L. Browne recites a curated selection of Wheatley Peters’ work, with musical accompaniment by multi-instrumentalist aden, followed by a performance from GRAMMY-nominated jazz trumpeter and composer Theo Croker. Plus, author Jacqueline Woodson reads her award-winning novel Each Kindness onstage to original music by Juliette Jones, performed by The Wondersmiths, with a special guest closing the evening.
The David Rubenstein Atrium plays host to one-of-a-kind programs and performers throughout the series, beginning with First Nations singer-songwriter Jeremy Dutcher, performing from his new, critically lauded studio album, Motewolonuwok. Singer-songwriter Crys Matthews takes the Atrium stage, performing a bold and socially conscious blend of folk, blues, and bluegrass. Delving into the liberating power of dance music, Unscripted Live honors the revolutionary impact of Tony Award-winning legend Melba Moore and GRAMMY-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge on dance culture and nightlife, with filmmaker Sekou Luke and music journalist Christian John Wikane. Audiences are also invited to take to the dance floor for a DJ-spun dance party.
All American Songbook: Out of Many, One performances are Choose-What-You-Pay or free. Tickets go on sale to the public February 9 at noon. For more information on tickets and the full American Songbook series, visit AmericanSongbook.org.
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American Songbook: Out of Many, One
March 12 – April 12, 2024
Tuesday, March 12 at 8:30 pm
The Appel Room
Songs From the Nonaverse and Other Dream Machines
Over the decades of her storied career, the versatile Nona Hendryx has played many parts: rock star as a founding member of the era-defining funk band Labelle, GRAMMY-nominated singer-songwriter as a solo performer, curator and mentor at residencies across the globe, tech-savvy innovator and ground-breaking Afrofuturist. It is these latter roles as speculative dreamer that are at the forefront of Hendryx's ongoing multimedia project, The Dream Machine at Lincoln Center, including this concert presentation of classic work and tracks hailing from the sci-fi musical Skindiver, which Pitchfork calls "a Black queer epic where technology mediates tenderness." This evening of music–featuring collaborators Skin, Felicia Colins and more special guests–offers a vision of fully integrated human and machine as co-artist, adopting natural and augmented vocals for songs that celebrate mental and physical freedom, carnal and spiritual love. These are the sounds of a future we can all hope to be a part of, replete with lyrics and melodies that promise a new world on the horizon.
Wednesday, March 13 at 8:30 pm
The Appel Room
Songs From the Hippy Counterculture (1963 – 1975)
Following their early 1990s cabaret debut, the earth-shaking powerhouse that is Justin Vivian Bond has taken on many roles: provocateur, Broadway and cinema star, pop chanteuse, Tony nominee, opera singer, futuristic trendsetter, transgender trailblazer, activist, memoirist, and—perhaps most memorably—the unforgettable voice of Kiki DuRane, one half of the generation-defining performance duo Kiki and Herb. An Obie, GLAAD, and Bessie Award winner, Bond's three decades as the downtown New York nightlife scene's most prominent and influential raconteur have earned them respect from all corners of the art world. Equally at home alongside the celebrated countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo or covering the SoCal punk band Suicidal Tendencies, Bond's seemingly limitless curiosity and talent continues to thrill local and international audiences. Their welcome return to the American Songbook series offers an opportunity to experience Bond's creative force at the peak of their powers. This performance will feature music by a variety of artists including Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, Tim Buckley, Bob Dylan, Judee Sill, and more.
Thursday, March 14 at 8:30 pm
The Appel Room
Regardless of their skill, few of the world's great voices have the versatility to cross over between the worlds of popular music and classical. As is often the case for the outrageously talented countertenor John Holiday, he proves the exception to the rule. An accomplished lead performer with the Dutch National Opera (Agrippina), Bavarian State Opera (Le Grand Macabre), Los Angeles Opera (Eurydice) and the Metropolitan Opera (The Hours); Holiday is equally known as a soloist with the Handel and Haydn Society and Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles, as well as for his pop performances as a finalist on the 2020 season of the NBC reality show The Voice. Holiday has been honored as one of WQXR’s prestigious “20 for 20: Artists to Watch” and named by BroadwayWorld as a "New York Opera Gift that Keeps on Giving.” Following his exceptional turn in Huang Ruo's 2016 production of Paradise Interrupted, Holiday makes a long overdue return to Lincoln Center for an unforgettable solo showcase.
Wednesday, March 20 at 7:30 pm
David Rubenstein Atrium
A truly one-of-a-kind modern talent, the composer, historian, activist, and performer Jeremy Dutcher represents the Indigenous Neqotkuk people of New Brunswick, Canada. He identifies as a "Two-Spirit" song carrier, an Indigenous term encompassing the intersecting identities of gender, sexuality, and culture for those who might otherwise be labeled as LGBTQIA+ and Indigenous. Dutcher gained international acclaim for his Polaris Prize-winning debut album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, which combined his own compositions with samples of his ancestors' voices from century-old anthropological wax cylinder recordings. His latest album, Motewolonuwok, is a moving exploration of contemporary Indigeneity and Dutcher's place within it. Having previously only vocalized exclusively in his endangered language of Wolastoqey, this new work marks Dutcher’s first time writing and singing in English, providing a direct line of communication that platforms his community’s stories of resilience for all to experience.
Friday, March 22 at 8:30 pm
The Appel Room
Presented in collaboration with AFROPUNK
Widely recognized as the first African American to publish a book of poetry, Phillis Wheatley Peters was a West African child captured and sold into the transatlantic slave trade who was found to be a prodigy and became a significant voice in the movement to end slavery in America. Known internationally for her eloquent elegies and ecclesiastical statements of human dignity throughout the late 1700s, Wheatley Peters' work is a unique entry into the lyric sheets of the American Songbook. In honor of Women's History Month, AFROPUNK and Lincoln Center present a two-part event celebrating the contributions of this pioneering poet and author. The evening begins with songs performed by multi-instrumental composer aden, accompanied by collaborative recitations of Wheatley Peters' work with Lincoln Center's poet-in-residence Mahogany L. Browne. The tribute continues with an artist talkback between Browne and aden and concludes with a concert by Afrofuturist artist and GRAMMY-nominated jazz trumpeter and composer, Theo Croker.
Thursday, March 28 at 7:30 pm
David Geffen Hall
“When We Were Writers”
Over the past 40 years, the singer-songwriter duo of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, better known as Indigo Girls, have released 15 studio albums, performed thousands of concerts, and amassed millions of fans. With their keen ear for melody and a poet's eye for lyrics, Ray and Saliers have set the standard, not only for rock star longevity, but also as trailblazing independent artists, political activists, and LGBTQIA+ icons. Indigo Girls songs have soundtracked weddings, births, protests, and key moments in the biggest movie of 2023: Barbie. This very special evening of music and conversation, led by veteran music journalist and NPR Music critic and correspondent Ann Powers, will explore the amazing highs of Indigo Girls' timeless discography with intimate reminiscences of the stories behind the songs and unforgettable live performances of their hits and fan favorites. Join us for an evening forum in which we give their songs the full due as the life-changing treasures they are.
Saturday, March 30 at 7:30 pm
David Rubenstein Atrium
Few artists begin their careers with a mission statement, but few artists are as self-aware of their intent and responsibility as Nashville’s Crys Matthews, who NPR’s Ann Powers calls “a rising folk star.” A vibrant guitarist and singer-songwriter of exquisite clarity, Matthews’ statement of purpose is “to amplify the voices of the unheard, to shed light on the unseen, and to be a steadfast reminder that hope and love are the truest pathways to equity and justice.” This mission comes to energetic life in thoughtfully penned and arrow-direct lyrics for songs like “Call Them In,” a tribute to the iconic congressman John Lewis; “Changemakers,” a cri de coeur against apathy; and “For the Women with Steel in Their Bones,” which defines the primary torchbearers of the future in its title. Following in the political and musical traditions of Tracy Chapman and Woody Guthrie, Matthews’ specificity and emotional depth marks her as a memorably powerful voice of the next generation.
Monday, April 1, at 7:30 pm
In American Sign Language
Deaf Broadway’s groundbreaking iteration of Jonathan Larson’s RENT is presented by a full cast of seasoned Deaf performers from Broadway and Hollywood, bringing excerpts of the Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning musical to vivid life through American Sign Language. The event will be accompanied by the original Broadway cast album of the show and dynamic captions in English, making this a thrilling, one-night-only performance for all. Founded on Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday in 2020, Deaf Broadway's core mission is to provide unprecedented visual access to the most iconic works of the American theater. The company's casts and creative teams are composed of both exciting new talent and tested professionals, all Deaf and hard of hearing artists. Utilizing Deaf Broadway's signature American Sign Language interface methodology, the company makes classics of the Great White Way accessible and enjoyable, most of them for the first time in history, for the Deaf and ASL communities.
Saturday, April 6 at 7:30 pm
David Rubenstein Atrium
Freedom to Dance
Tony Award-winning legend Melba Moore and GRAMMY Award-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge join filmmaker and photographer Sekou Luke and noted music journalist Christian John Wikane for Unscripted Live, an interview series that spotlights the stories of legendary and innovative artists. For the American Songbook edition, Unscripted Live celebrates the Freedom to Dance as Wikane conducts one-on-one, career-spanning interviews with Moore and Sledge, whose voices have both shaped the liberating power of dance music. Luke and Wikane will also premiere a short film that honors seminal artists who revolutionized music and nightlife. Following the Q&A, audience members are invited to the dance floor while a special guest DJ spins classic grooves for Unscripted Live's inaugural dance soirée.
April 7, 2024 at 8:30 pm
April 8, 2024 at 8:30 pm
The Appel Room
Any theater vet can point to Broadway’s busy revival scene as proof of the axiom that some plays simply need to find their time to succeed. Several of the most famous theater works of today stand on the shoulders of artists whose names aren’t cited, remembered, or compensated. Many of these missing musical masterworks are often the labor of BIPOC creators and women. To remedy this state of affairs, the Cast Album Project—helmed by the multiple Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home; Caroline, or Change; Kimberly Akimbo) and Obie and Drama League-winning director Anne Kauffman (Marvin’s Room, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window)—reconstructs the scores of lost musicals and records them in concert in the hopes of preserving them for future generations to rediscover.
One such reconstructed work is Running Man by composer Diedre Murray and poet Cornelius Eady. The disappearance of a young African American man is told through an explosive convergence of jazz, opera, and chamber music. This hauntingly beautiful story was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and won an OBIE for Composition. Join us for a two-night-only concert of Running Man—finally capturing for eventual release, a long-belated, first-time cast album.
The libretto is based on Cornelius Eady’s cycle of poetry of the same name published in the book Brutal Imagination by Penguin Random House and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Ms. Murray and Mr. Eady have also collaborated on the musical theater pieces: You Don't Miss Your Water, Brutal Imagination and Fangs.
April 12, 2024 at 7:30 pm
David Rubenstein Atrium
A Jacqueline Woodson & Wondersmith Entertainment collaboration
Based on the book by Jacqueline Woodson
Multi-hyphenate, award-winning author, Jacqueline Woodson (Newbury, Coretta Scott King, MacArthur Grant) reimagines her iconic book, Each Kindness (winner of a Coretta Scott King Honor and Jane Addams Peace Award), with original music by Juliette Jones, as performed by The Wondersmiths (an imprint of Wondersmith Entertainment). In this live musical exploration of Each Kindness, the story’s powerful message of kindness will resonate with audiences long after they've left the theater. A special guest will close the evening by amplifying the key messages, leading the audience in congregational-style singing!
Each Kindness was commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and was first presented at the Kennedy Center with the world premiere during the 2022-2023 season.
About Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (LCPA) is a cultural and civic cornerstone of New York City. The primary advocate for the entire Lincoln Center campus, our strategic priorities include: fostering collaboration and deepening impact across the Lincoln Center resident organizations; championing inclusion and increasing the accessibility and reach of Lincoln Center’s work; and nurturing innovation on stage and off to help ensure the arts are at the center of civic life for all. LCPA presents hundreds of programs each year, offered primarily for free and choose-what-you-pay, including many specially designed for young audiences, families, and those with disabilities.
Hip-Hop and contemporary arts programming made possible by Nike
American Songbook is supported by PGIM, Global Asset Management
Additional support is provided by Barbara H. Block
Lead support for Choose-What-You-Pay is provided by the Family of Robert Wood Johnson III
Additional support is provided by the PNC Foundation
Major support is provided by the Shubert Foundation
Additional support is provided by the DuBose and Dorothy Heyward Memorial Fund
Lincoln Center’s artistic excellence is made possible by the dedication and generosity of our board members
Operation of Lincoln Center’s public plazas is supported in part with public funds provided by the City of New York
Programs are made possible, in part, with public funds provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Empire State Development, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor, Mayor of the City of New York, the New York State Legislature and the New York City Council
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