In The News

Music to warm the heart at Centenary Stage's January Thaw Music Festival

By Natalie Pompilio
For NJ Advance Media

Singer Freda Payne remembers the day in June 1996 that legendary jazz artist Ella Fitzgerald died.

"I was heartsick," Payne said in an interview with NJ Advance Media. "And I said, 'You know what? I want to play Ella on stage.'"

A few years later, the "Band of Gold" singer did just that. The Fitzgerald tribute has been part of Payne's performance repertoire ever since. She'll channel the First Lady of Jazz again Jan. 14, the first of the three shows that make up Centenary State Company's January Thaw Music Festival at Lackland Performing Arts Center.

"I pay homage while still being Freda," said Payne, who grew up listening to Fitzgerald songs like "A Tisket, A Tasket" and "Mr. Paganini." "Ella showed me how to articulate your lyrics and how to use your voice to project for a pure, quality sound. ... She was just enchanting. So beautiful."

The Festival is an annual event that features three performances on three different weekends. Jazz saxophonist Danny Bacher brings his show "Swing that Music! A Jazz Tribute to the Three Louis ... Armstrong, Prima and Jordan" to the stage Jan. 21. The final show, by Brazilian bluegrass group Matuto, is on Jan. 27. In Brazil, the word "matuto" is a slang term meaning "country boy."  (Read More)

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Centenary Stage Company Receives Grant from Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation

Centenary Stage Company has received a grant of $27,500 from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation for the 2016 - 17 Season.  The grant will cover general operating expenses during Centenary Stage Company's 2016 - 17 season.

For more than 40 years, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation has nurtured leaders, ideas, and institutions which transcend self interest and promote a sustainable future. We focus on issues critical to our home state of New Jersey, and organizations that have a direct and meaningful impact here.

Working with nonprofit, community, government, and business leaders to imagine a better New Jersey, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation funds Arts, Education, Environment and Informed Communities initiatives that are innovative and promote collaboration and community-driven decision making.

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In December of 2016 Centenary Stage Company received a $10,000 grant from The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation.  The grant will support general operating expenses for the 2016-17 season.  With a strong commitment to the advancement of the Arts in New Jersey, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation supports a variety of projects across a broad spectrum of issues.