Tribute to Ella
Larry Blank, conductor
Harolyn Blackwell, vocalist
Capathia Jenkins, vocalist
Aisha de Haas, vocalist
A centennial celebration of the First Lady of Song! Pacific Symphony honors Ella Fitzgerald’s remarkable legacy with the sultry ballads and sweet jazz that she made her own — including “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).”
Ella Fitzgerald was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century. In her lifetime, she won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums. Her voice was flexible, wide-ranging, accurate and ageless. She worked with all the jazz greats, from Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Nat King Cole, to Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Goodman. (Or rather, some might say all the jazz greats had the pleasure of working with Ella.) She performed at top venues all over the world, and packed them to the hilt. Her audiences were as diverse as her vocal range. They were rich and poor, made up of all races, all religions and all nationalities. In fact, many of them had just one binding factor in common — they all loved her.
Larry Blank is one of the most prolific and sought-after composers, conductors and orchestrators in the entertainment business today. His work has been presented all over the world, including some of Broadway’s most successful musicals, Carnegie Hall and top television and film projects. Blank was the music director/conductor and/or vocal arranger for many shows on Broadway and in Los Angeles including They’re Playing Our Song, Evita, Sugar Babies, La Cage aux Folles, Phantom of the Opera, Onward Victoria, Copperfield, Colette, A Chorus Line and A Little Night Music. He has been nominated three times for both the Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award for his orchestrations in The Drowsy Chaperone, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and with Marc Shaiman for Catch Me If You Can. Blank received a Drama Desk nomination for orchestrations for A Christmas Story and Honeymoon in Las Vegas.
Aisha de Haas
Aisha de Haas is a versatile Broadway and jazz artist with the ability to sing in a variety of vocal styles. Most recently, she toured North America as Medda Larkin in the first national tour of Disney’s Newsies and is featured in the “live-capture” movie that was released this year. Graduating from Columbia College Chicago, where she was mentored by Sheldon Patinkin, de Haas’ professional career began with Little Shop of Horrors at the Royal George Theater, Four Saints in Three Acts with Chicago Opera Theater and several productions at The Goodman Theater. She returned to New York, where she was cast in her first Broadway show, Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk, with Savion Glover. This was immediately followed by the Tony Award-winning production of Rent and Caroline, Or Change.
Harolyn Blackwell has been hailed by audiences and critics alike as a “model of agility, spunk, charm and silvery tone.” Recognized for her expressive and exuberant performances, as well as for her radiant voice, she is making a wide and varied career on opera, concert and recital stages of the world. Blackwell’s performing career began on the Broadway stage in Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. The transition from musical theater to opera occurred shortly afterwards, when she was selected as a finalist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Since that time, the soprano has performed with many of the major national and international opera companies around the world.
Brooklyn-born and raised actress Capathia Jenkins most recently starred as Medda in the hit Disney production of Newsies on Broadway. She made her Broadway debut in The Civil War, where she created the role of Harriet Jackson. She then starred in the Off-Broadway 2000 revival of Godspell, where she wowed audiences with her stirring rendition of “Turn Back, O Man,” which can still be heard on the original cast recording. She returned to Broadway in The Look of Love and was critically acclaimed for her performances of the Bacharach/David hits. Jenkins then created the roles of The Washing Machine in Caroline, Or Change and Frieda May in Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, where she sang “Stop the Show” and brought the house down every night.