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Broadway and Metropolitan Opera stars join Gulf Coast Symphony for Ella Fitzgerald tribute

January 5, 2018
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Broadway artists Capathia Jenkins and Aisha de Haas, and Metropolitan Opera soprano Harolyn Blackwell will join the Gulf Coast Symphony for a program honoring Ella Fitzgerald, the "First Lady of Song," Sunday, Jan. 21, at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall on the campus of Florida SouthWestern State College.

Audiences will hear Fitzgerald hits including "It Don't Mean a Thing, If It Ain't Got That Swing," "How High the Moon," "I Got Rhythm" and more. Many songs will be performed with the original Nelson Riddle and Billy May orchestrations.

Following a troubled childhood, Fitz-gerald turned to singing and debuted at the Apollo Theater in 1934. Discovered in an amateur contest, she went on to become the top female jazz singer for decades. In 1958, she made history as the first African-American woman to win a Grammy Award. Due in no small part to her vocal quality, with lucid intonation and a broad range, the singer would go on to win 13 Grammys in total and sell more than 40 million albums. Her multi-volume "songbooks" on Verve Records are among America's recording treasures. Fitzgerald died in California in 1996.

Jenkins most recently starred 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 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. Jen-kins then created the roles of 'The Washing Machine' in "Caroline, Or Change" and 'Frieda May' in "Martin Short-Fame Becomes Me."

de Haas toured North America as Medda Larkin in the 1st National Tour of Disney's "Newsies" and was featured in the "live-capture" movie. She has performed on Broadway in "Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk" with Savion Glover, and the Tony Award-winning production of "RENT" and "Caroline Or Change." Off-Broadway, de Haas was seen in Nora Eph-ron's Love, Loss And What I Wore" and Stephen Sondheim's "Road Show."

Soprano Blackwell is recognized for her expressive and exuberant performances, with a career that has spanned opera, concert and recital stages around the world.

Tickets for A Tribute to Ella on Jan. 21, at 7 p.m., start at $42 and may be purchased online at GulfCoast or by calling the Barbara B. Mann box office at 239-481-4849.


Established in 1996, the Gulf Coast Symphony is led by Music and Executive Director Dr. Andrew M. Kurtz. Recognized for its high-quality symphonic performances, as well as its active community engagement and commitment to arts education, the Gulf Coast Symphony exists to contribute to the cultural enrichment of Lee County and the greater Southwest Florida area. For more information visit



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