Tribute Concert Set For Mildred Bailey: Keefe Special Guest Singer for Tuesday Show at NIC

COEUR d’ALENE – The North Idaho College Music Department and Cardinal Connections will present “khwe ‘enkwinm, khwe te’l spu’ss ‘alaqhwp’t sinm” (When she sings, it pours from her heart), a tribute to Mildred Bailey, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Boswell Hall Schuler Performing Arts Center.

This concert, featuring the NIC Jazz Ensemble, Cardinal Vocal Jazz and special guest singer Julia Keefe, is free to the public.

The concert will feature arrangements of some of Mildred Bailey’s signature songs including, “I’ll Close My Eyes,” “Begin the Beguine” and “Rockin’ Chair.”

The NIC Jazz Ensemble is under the direction of Terry M.L. Jones and Cardinal Vocal Jazz is directed by Max Mendez.

Keefe will perform with both groups for the evening’s program.

Award-winning jazz vocalist Julia Keefe, a member of the Nez Perce Tribe, has been turning heads and dazzling audiences at jazz clubs from New York to Paris, and from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles. With her “Old Hideout” show, Keefe recently brought a magic night of 1920s Golden Age of Jazz sound to Vitello’s Upstairs, a prominent jazz venue in Los Angeles, recreating the guilty pleasure of an evening spent in a Prohibition-era speakeasy.

Keefe began singing jazz while in the seventh grade at St. George’s School in Spokane. She was a participant at the annual Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival in Moscow for five years as a soloist and in award-winning choir and ensemble groups. In 2007, Keefe won an outstanding vocal soloist award at the Lionel Hampton Festival.

She continued her training at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, graduating with honors and earning a bachelor’s degree in studio music and jazz voice. In 2009, Keefe performed a tribute concert, “Thoroughly Modern: Mildred Bailey Songs,” with the Jerrol Pennerman Octet on the National Mall in Washington D.C. at the National Museum of the American Indian as a featured event of Smithsonian Institution’s National Jazz Appreciation Month.

Her efforts to have Mildred Bailey inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame at Lincoln Center have drawn national attention from the media, including National Public Radio. Keefe’s campaign on Mildred Bailey’s behalf has also received support from the Idaho State Legislature, Gov. Butch Otter, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, and the National Congress of American Indians.

In addition to several previous live recorded albums, Keefe’s debut studio album “Pure Love” was recorded in Paris last year. She currently lives in Los Angeles where she is pursuing careers in both singing and acting.

Along with the concert, Keefe will give presentations on the life and significance of Mildred Bailey on the NIC campus. Presentations will be given at 11 a.m. Monday, and at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday. All presentations will take place in Boswell Hall Room 102 and are free and open to students and community members.

Mildred Bailey (1907-1951) was one of the early pioneers of jazz singing. She was born in Tekoa, Wash., and is a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. During her childhood, she spent a great deal of time in North Idaho.

Bailey started her music career by playing piano and singing for silent movie houses and later working at the Woolworth sheet music counter in Seattle. She later moved to Los Angles and became one of the finest jazz singers of her time. She performed with some of the finest musicians of the swing era including Benny Goodman, Paul Whiteman, and Coleman Hawkins. She is credited for helping a young Bing Crosby get his start in Los Angeles.

Bailey was known for her vocal depth and ability to capture the essence of any song that she sang. She is most well known for her signature song, Hoagie Carmichael’s “Rockin’ Chair” among others. She along with her husband, Red Norvo, were known as “Mr. and Mrs. Swing.”

Cardinal Connections is North Idaho College’s annual symposium program whose mission is to connect campus and community through speaker presentations and other cultural events. Cardinal Connections events are open to the public.

The presentation is free and open to everyone. Free parking is offered at Cardinal Connection events; drop by the Sherman Building for a free visitor’s parking pass.

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