Opening Night: Taj Mahal | Corinne Bailey Rae | The Harlem Gospel Travelers
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! @ Lena Horne Bandshell (Prospect Park)
141 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn, NY 11215, USA
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Doors 6:00PM/Show 7:00PM
Join us for the opening night of BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! 2023 featuring Taj Mahal, Corrine Bailey Rae, The Harlem Gospel Travelers, and DJ Tara!
Blues legend Taj Mahal has elevated the genre’s timeless sound, blending the traditional and avant-garde. Having graced our stage three times before, there’s no one better to usher us into another incredible summer at the Bandshell. Soulful R&B singer/songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae – a force of her own who embodies storytelling, artistry, and craft – will also perform. Opening is The Harlem Gospel Travelers, a trio whose sound draws deeply on gospel quartet traditions of the 50s and 60s with a distinctly modern edge. DJ Tara will keep the fun going before the show and in between sets.
*Please Note: A limited amount of chairs will be available at this show, but you are also permitted to bring your own. For our d/Deaf and hard of hearing communities, we will have an ASL interpreter at the left side of the stage.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
“The blues is bigger than most people think,” Taj Mahal says. “You could hear Mozart play the blues. It might be more like a lament. It might be more melancholy. But I’m going to tell you: the blues is in there.” Taj is a towering musical figure – a legend who transcended the blues not by leaving them behind, but by revealing their magnificent scope to the world. Quantifying the 77-year-old’s significance is impossible, but people try anyway. A 2017 Grammy win for TajMo, Taj’s collaboration with Keb’ Mo’, brought his Grammy tally to three wins and 14 nominations, and underscored his undiminished relevance more than 50 years after his solo debut. Blues Hall of Fame membership, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association, and other honors punctuate his résumé. Taj appreciates the accolades, but his motivation lies elsewhere. “I just want to be able to make the music that I’m hearing come to me – and that’s what I did,” Taj says. “When I say, ‘I did,’ I’m not coming from the ego. The music comes from somewhere. You’re just the conduit it comes through. You’re there to receive the gift.”
From Leeds, England, singer/songwriter/musician Corinne Bailey Rae shot to stardom with her self-titled #1 UK debut album in 2006, featuring the global hits “Put Your Records On“ and “Like A Star.” Bailey Rae has received two GRAMMY AWARDS, two MOBOS, alongside multiple nominations including BRIT and BET Awards. She was awarded her first GRAMMY® in 2008 for Album Of The Year when featured on Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters. Her second album, The Sea (2010) was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize. The subsequent EP Is This Love garnered a GRAMMY® for Best R&B Performance. In 2016 Bailey Rae returned with “boundary-defying, epic music” (NPR) for her third studio album, The Heart Speaks In Whispers, also declared “the best R&B of 2016” (The Guardian). The album featured the stunning “Green Aphrodisiac” named “10 best R&B songs of 2016” (Billboard) and selected by President Obama for his summer playlist. Bailey Rae’s success has lead her to composing music for film and television, including the theme to Stan Lee’s Lucky Man (SKY1). She recorded “The Scientist” for Universal Pictures’ Fifty Shades Darker opening title and soundtrack, which charted globally. 2020 included The High Note with Bailey Rae’s “New to Me”, performed in the film by Tracee Ellis Ross.
Things are looking up for The Harlem Gospel Travelers, who return here with a new album, a new lineup, and a new lease on life. Produced by Eli Paperboy Reed, Look Up! marks the group’s first full-length release as a trio, as well as their first collection of totally original material, and it couldn’t have come at a more vital moment. The music still draws deeply on the gospel quartet tradition of the ’50s and ’60s, of course, but there’s a distinctly modern edge to the record, an unmistakable reflection of the tumultuous past few years of pandemic anxiety, political chaos, and social unrest. The songs are bold and resilient, facing down doubt and despair with faith and perseverance, and the performances are explosive and ecstatic, fueled by dazzling vocal arrangements punctuated with gritty bursts of guitar and crunchy rhythm breaks.
Born out of an non-profit music education program led by Reed, The Harlem Gospel Travelers – singers Thomas Gatling, George Marage, and Dennis Bailey – released their debut LP, He’s On Time, to rave reviews in 2019, with Pop Matters hailing the album’s “musical transcendence” and AllMusic praising it as “dreamlike and joyous.” The record charted on Billboard, earned the Travelers high profile fans like Elton John (who invited them to appear on his Rocket Hour radio show on Apple Music), and landed them festival slots everywhere from Pilgrimage to Telluride Jazz.
Absorbing the sounds of New York since her birth in Brooklyn, DJ Tara spins a collage of soulful sounds that captures an eclectic vibe. Her sets acknowledge the past while looking to the future and celebrating the now. Tara aims to give people a taste of the familiar as well as something new that may be something they never realized was needed in their musical memory. As a member of Rare Form, she helped originate Donuts are Forever, an annual fundraiser/tribute to hip hop producer J. Dilla, as well as Makossa Brooklyn Cookout, now over 10 years strong as a beloved Brooklyn summer hang.