Florance set to open Scarritt-Bennett

(l-r) Connye Florance and Kevin Madill

The Scarritt-Bennett Center is launching its 25th anniversary Performance Series at Wightman Chapel with a ‘sure to be’ stellar evening of music by award-winning jazz vocal stylist Connye Florance, accompanied by pianist and arranger Kevin Madill. The hour-long kick-off concert is scheduled for Thursday, January 17, from 7-8 pm.

Florance, whose enchanting presence and deliciously smooth jazz vocals have garnered her sell-out crowds in area jazz venues and international attention from jazz fans and adult contemporary listeners, says she is thrilled and “honored” to be leading off the center’s new performance series.

“I feel spiritually in sync with Scarritt-Bennett Center, not to mention the ‘ring’ in Wightman chapel! Not only is it a singer’s delight in choice concert spaces, it is a spiritually centered place on holy ground, whose history and mission have really begun to touch my life in personal ways.”

In recent months, Connye’s fans have been just as apt to find her sharing her well-loved ‘velvet and wine’ vocals at services and special events in the sacred legendary stone chapel space as any other concert room in the area. Earlier this year, she and Kevin brought music from ‘Crossing the Divide’ to the Tuesdays’ In The Chapel services. Most recently she performed as guest vocalist for services preceding the historical marker dedication ceremonies to commemorate the impact of Scarritt-Bennett in the struggle to for civil rights. Built in 1928, this architectural treasure, formerly Scarritt College for Christian Workers, is on the National Historic Register.

Connye’s dynamic delivery and creamy-rich style have delighted countless audiences from nightclub and theatre performances on and off Broadway to headline and featured appearances at area jazz festivals and venues—alongside such notables as Steinway artist Beegie Adair, master trumpeter Randy Brecker; saxophonist Kirk Whalum; with Nashville Jazz Orchestra, and with her pick of the most stellar ensemble of musicians. Critics consistently call Connye’s style “warm… captivating”; “rich and delicious.” Nashville Arts magazine’s John Pitcher wrote of one of her performances at Nashville Jazz Workshop’s concert series; “Prolonged exposure to this singer’s velvety vocals can induce an involuntary, trance-like state of nirvana.”

“That’s actually what I begin to tap into when I’m at Scarritt-Bennett is a taste of Nirvana,” said Florance, “so I guess we’re a good fit from the spirit center, out.”

Ms. Florance will bring a one hour concert of songs in a presentation she has tagged as “Colors of Jazz”, said to include a variety of songs from “The Great American Songbook and beyond” with historic content in homage to jazz, and to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose speech to students and faculty at Scarritt-Bennett’s Wightman Chapel in 1957 is an honored part of its impacting legacy.

Scarritt-Bennett Center, organized in 1988 as a non-profit education, retreat and conference center. The 25th anniversary Performance Series at Wightman Chapel is an effort to help raise awareness and funding for Scarritt-Bennett and its community programs that focus on eradicating racism, cross-cultural awareness, empowerment of women and spiritual renewal.