Singers Ledisi, Samara Joy and more will perform at the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival this week

George BensonBilly Eckstine and Phyllis Hyman, are just a few of the extraordinary singers who have taken root in Pittsburgh and enriched the tradition of vocal jazz. The singers who sing at the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival (PIJF), which runs September 16-18, will develop and extend the legacy of their Steel City ancestors.

Laurin Talese, (Taste of Jazz, Friday September 16, 9:30 p.m., August Wilson African American Cultural Center, 980 Liberty Ave.)

Cleveland singer/songwriter Laurin Talese won the Sarah Vaughan International Vocal Competition, although in 2018. She performed with Patti LaBelle, Christian McBride, Gregory Porter and Robert Glasper, toured as a cultural ambassador with American Music Abroad, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and released her debut album, Gorgeous Chaos in 2016. at the Cleveland Institute of Music and a graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Talese performed her composition This Love, with the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Yannick Nezet-Seguin in 2021. This year, his latest work, Museum Of Living Stories, was commissioned by Chamber Music America. With a voice light as a feather, the voice of Talese, dance and trance in all musical genres.

Aymée Nuviola and Gonzalo Rubalcaba Band, (Saturday, September 17, 3:30 p.m. Highmark Stadium, Station Square, 510 W Station Square Dr.)

Cuba boasts an impressive collection of exceptional female singers, from Celia Cruz and Merceditas Valdés to Omara Portundo of the Buena Vista Social Club, Havana singer/actress Aymée Nuviola is the next step in this highly esteemed line. Nuviola, winner of several Grammy Awards and Latin Grammy Awards, is the first woman to lead a Cuban timba group. She grew up in a musical family, classically trained and familiar with the myriad of Afro-Cuban and Latin American musical genres of her native country, such as rumba, bolero, bossa nova and salsa, and recordings of Nuviola reflect this dancing diversity. In recent years, she has formed a partnership with Grammy Award-winning pianist/composer Gonzalo Rubalcaba. With Rubalcaba by his side, Nuviola will perform selections from their critically acclaimed 2020 CD Viento y Tiempo (Wind and Time), Rubalcaba and Nuviola’s musical look at the Cuba of their childhood, a kind of rhythmic time travel .

Vanisha Gould, (Taste of Jazz – Friday, September 16, 9:30 p.m., August Wilson African American Cultural Center, 980 Liberty Ave. and Saturday, September 17, 4:45 p.m. Highmark Stadium, Station Square, 510 W Station Square Dr.)

Originally from Simi Valley, California, where she started singing at the age of four, singer/songwriter Vanisha Gould moved to New York in 2015 to pursue her music career. She has performed at some of the city’s major venues, including Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Smalls, and The Jazz Gallery. Inspired by artists like billie holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Joni Mitchell, Carmen McRae and Ella Fitzgerald, Gould has created her own sound as a composer and bandleader drawing on the traditions of jazz, rock and folk. She worked with the JC Hopkins Biggish Band and Emmet Cohen, among others. Her 2021 recording, In Her Words, is a collaboration with singer Lucy Yeghiazaryan playing standards and original compositions and is an exploration of the inner lives of women. When she brings her quartet to the Pittsburgh stage, you’ll hear an artist who balances intimacy and intensity beautifully.

Samara Joy (Sunday, September 18, 2:15 p.m., Highmark Stadium, Station Square, 510 W Station Square Dr.)

Samara Joy, 22, from the Bronx, has been a fan favorite on the club/festival circuit since winning the 2019 Sarah Vaughan International vocal competition. She is lucky to look fresh and caressing Jane Lee-like the contralto, enriched by the gospel heritage she inherited from her parents and grandparents, and honed in the Fordham High School for the Arts Jazz Band and the SUNY-Purchase Jazz Program. Joy comes to Pittsburgh supported by pianist Isaiah J. Thompson, bassist Felix Moseholm and drummer Evan Sherman, performing selections from his upcoming CD, Linger Awhile. The phrase “catching a rising star” has never been more apt.

Ledisi (Sunday, September 18, 7:15 p.m., Highmark Stadium, Station Square, 510 W Station Square Dr.)

Born in New Orleans and raised in Oakland, Ledisi’s vivacious, Grammy-winning voice also draws inspiration from the blues and Afro-Caribbean vibes and grooves of the Big Easy, as well as Bay Area R&B and funk. This means that she can deliver order performance anytime, anywhere. The recipient of three Soul Train Awards and multiple NAACP Image Award nominee, Ledisi is also an actress, starring in the film Remember Me: The Story of mahalia jacksonand she stages Gladys Knight in the next film, Spinning Gold: The Story of Casablanca Records. Her nine records, from her excellent 2007 album Lost & Found, Ledisi Sings Nina, her heartfelt tribute to Nina Simone, and her 2021 album Live at the Troubadour, run the gamut of modern music, including storm silent, soul, gospel and blues. Ledisi’s name means “to produce” or “come here” in Yoruba, and she’ll bring it all when she hits the Highmark stage.

Maysa Leak with Incognito (Sunday, Sept. 18, 8:45 p.m., Highmark Stadium, Station Square, 510 W Station Square Dr.)

Since their debut in 1979, British acid-jazz ensemble Incognito, led by composer/producer/multi-instrumentalist Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick, has created an infectious mix of jazz, disco, funk and soul, R&B and pop. still moving and grooving four decades later. Baltimore-born, Grammy-nominated, Morgan State University alum Maysa Leak, who once sang for Stevie Wonder, joined the band in the early 1990s, moved to London in 1982, and it was a perfect marriage. With Maysa on vocals, the band’s fiery version of Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” and soul ballad “Deep Waters” became hits, and she recorded seven albums with the band. She has also recorded 14 albums as a solo artist since 1995, including her 2007 recording, Feel the Fire, featuring music by Peabo Bryson, Stevie Wonder, michael jackson, and the Commodores. Leaks’ gospelized jazz vocals will reunite with Incognito at the festival and take the Highmark stage to the next level.


Tickets for Ron Carter Foursight at AWAACC on Friday, September 16 start at $55 and are available for purchase here. Tickets for A Taste of Jazz, starting at $47.25, are available for purchase here.

One-day Saturday or Sunday passes are available from $45, and two-day Jazz Fest passes are available from $85 for performances at Highmark Stadium. For more details and to purchase tickets, please follow this link.

One-day student passes for $30 and two-day passes for $55 will be available for purchase in person at the venue, along with $12 tickets for children (ages 4 to 12 years old) and free passes for children under 3 years old. These tickets must be purchased in person at the Highmark Stadium box office.


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The August Wilson African American Cultural Center is a nonprofit cultural organization located in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District that generates arts, educational, and community initiatives that advance the legacy of the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright. August Wilson. One of the largest cultural centers in the country focused exclusively on the African American experience and the celebration of black culture and the African diaspora, the nonprofit organization welcomes more than 119,000 visitors locally and nationally. . With year-round programming in multiple genres, such as the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, Black Bottom Film Festival, AWCommunity Days, the TRUTHSayers speaker series, and rotating art exhibits in its galleries, the Center provides a platform to established and emerging artists of color. whose work reflects the universal identity questions Wilson grappled with, and which still resonate today.

Don’t miss the Highmark Blues & Heritage Festival, also produced by AWAACC, on September 14-15 at Highmark Stadium. For more information, including daily schedules, go to

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