Cul­tural se­ries helps cel­e­brate cen­ten­nial

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Music -

Tonight’s Aaron Neville con­cert at the Can­non Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts marks the first of what will be a year­long se­ries of mu­si­cal and artis­tic events cel­e­brat­ing the Univer­sity of Mem­phis’ 100th an­niver­sary.

In ad­di­tion to Neville, the con­cert will fea­ture per­for­mances by the Univer­sity of Mem­phis Sym­phony Or­ches­tra, the Wind En­sem­ble, South­ern Com­fort Jazz Or­ches­tra, Sound Fuzion, the Univer­sity Singers and the U of M Opera.

The show will in­clude the first air­ing of two new orig­i­nal an­niver­sary-in­spired pieces, “Cen­ten­nial Fan­fare” and “Pres­i­den­tial Por­traits.” Both com­po­si­tions were writ­ten by U of M mu­sic pro­fes­sor James Richens.

Other up­com­ing events in­clude:

Song of the Silk Con­cert: An evening of per­for­mance pro­vided by an all-star cast from China spon­sored by the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute and Asian Stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Mem­phis Rose The­atre.

Photo ex­hibit and re­cep­tion mark­ing the re­lease of “Dream­ers. Thinkers. Do­ers. A Cen­ten­nial His­tory of the Univer­sity of Mem­phis” at Myn­ders Hall with co-author Janann Sher­man.

David Dorf­man Dance: “Prophets of Funk”: This in­flu­en­tial Amer­i­can con­tem­po­rary dance com­pany per­forms to the “pop­u­lar-and pop­ulist-funk sounds of Sly and the Fam­ily Stone” at the Rose The­atre.

Sousa Spec­tac­u­lar: U of M band depart­ment presents a “rous­ing trib­ute to John Philip Sousa” at 3 p.m. at Har­ris Con­cert Hall.

CCFA fall per­for­mance event “New Voices” show­cases works by Univer­sity of Mem­phis stu­dent chore­og­ra­phers and dancers at the The­atre and Fine Arts build­ing, room 124.

For more in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing a full list of Cen­ten­nial events, go to mem­­ten­nial.

— Bob Mehr: (901) 529-2517

I Know I’ve Been Changed.

“Since when I first started, I al­ways in­cluded gospel stuff in some form. I’d sing ‘Down by the River­side,’ or I’d close all the shows with ‘Amaz­ing Grace,’ ” says Neville. “To me, gospel comes from the soul. And every­thing cat­a­pulted from gospel, whether it’s R&B or coun­try mu­sic.”

For his next project, slated for re­lease in 2012, Neville plans on go­ing a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion, re­al­iz­ing a life­long am­bi­tion of record­ing a doo-wop al­bum.

“That was one of my first loves as a kid. My older brother, Art, had a doo-wop group when I was about 9. They’d sit out on the park bench in the Calio (Cal­liope) projects and sing har­monies at night, and then they’d go around and win tal­ent shows. They used to run me away un­til they fig­ured out I could hold a note. Then they let me sing with them,” Neville says with a laugh.

“To me, when I was a kid, mu­sic was like medicine. As long as I could sing along with the Ori­oles and Clyde McPhat­ter, noth­ing else in the world mat­tered to me.”

How­ever, It’s an­other kind of mu­sic that Neville cred­its with cre­at­ing his sig­na­ture oc­tave jump­ing vo­cal style.

“When I was a kid, I used to go to movies and see the cow­boys: Roy Rogers and Gene Autry and the Sons of the Pi­o­neers. So I’d come out of the movie and I was that cow­boy, who­ever I’d just seen. I’d be yo­del­ing along with them,” he says.

“The yo­del­ing al­ways fas­ci­nated me. That stuck in my vo­cal range, go­ing from one oc­tave to an­other. So, for me, it was the cow­boys and the doo-wop all mixed up to­gether, as well as the gospel, even the blues, which my par­ents loved.”

Re­flect­ing for a mo­ment, the creatively rest­less Neville notes that a blues record might be in his fu­ture as well.

“You know I started out at 16, sign­ing blues in the French Quar­ter with an all-blind band. So, yeah, I’d like to do a blues al­bum, too. Like I say, I don’t ever want to be pi­geon­holed. I’m just glad to get a chance to do all these things.”

An all-star cast from

China per­forms the Song of

the Silk Con­cert on Oct. 4 at

Rose The­atre at

the Univer­sity of Mem­phis.

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