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Bessie, Billie & Nina - Pioneering Women in Jazz Performance

Bessie, Billie & Nina—Pioneering Women in Jazz
Jazz Series

Date & Price

Thursday, February 17, 2022 at 8:00 pm


Reserved Seating: $32

Gardens Preferred, Gardens Premium Members, and Innovators: $27*

Sold Out

Ticket includes all-day Gardens Admission

Longwood Debut

From the Jim Crow era South through the turbulent 1960s, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, and Nina Simone were among the most influential and popular singers of their times. Dynamic vocalists Charenée Wade, Tahira Clayton, and Vanisha Gould celebrate the enduring musical and social legacies of these icons who defied social norms and embraced self-empowerment through their art with powerful performances of their classic songs.

More about Bessie, Billie & Nina—Pioneering Women in Jazz

Both within their music and outside of the clubs and concert halls, Smith, Holiday, and Simone wielded their exceptional talents to combat racial prejudice, sexism, and poverty. Whether powerfully and playfully claiming her autonomy and sexuality (Smith), forcing America to acknowledge the racism pervasive in the American South and beyond (Holiday), or giving voice to the Civil Rights Movement with stirring protest anthems (Simone), these trailblazing singers spoke to and for the disenfranchised as women, African Americans, and artists. All three women defied social norms, embracing self-empowerment through their art.

Produced by Grammy Award-winning Eli Wolf (Norah Jones, Cassandra Wilson), and with arrangements by pianist and musical director Carmen Staff (Dee Dee Bridgewater), Bessie, Billie & Nina—Pioneering Women in Jazz features three dynamic vocalists, each a rising star in her own right: Charenée Wade (Jazz at Lincoln Center), Tahira Clayton (co-leader, WIJO, Women in Jazz Organization) and Vanisha Gould. Presented in affiliation with the Women in Jazz Organization and backed by an all-female band, Wade, Clayton, and Gould celebrate the enduring legacies of these iconic women and artists with performances of their classic songs, including Smith’s Downhearted Blues, Holiday’s Strange Fruit, and Simone’s Mississippi Goddam.

The musical and social legacies of Smith, Holiday, and Simone remain as relevant as ever. Their contributions resonate with today’s artists across many genres, as well as with ongoing movements toward progress and equality for women, African Americans, and the LGBTQ community. Bessie, Billie & Nina—Pioneering Women in Jazz entertains, inspires, and empowers audiences during this pivotal time in our own history.

*Gardens Preferred, Gardens Premium Members, and Innovators receive access to the Pre-sale. If you are eligible, you have received a discount code and Pre-sale access code via direct mail or email from Longwood Gardens.

Please note, per Pennsylvania’s lifting of pandemic restrictions, indoor concerts will be at full capacity and social distancing will not be in place.