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Seventh Annual
Redwood Coast Whale & Jazz Festival

Linda Tillery and the
Cultural Heritage Choir

Arena Theater
Saturday, April 18, 2009

Doors open 6:30 p.m., Concert at 7:30 p.m.

Redwood Coast Whale and Jazz Festival logo

Arena Theater and the Whale & Jazz Festival proudly present Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir on Saturday, April 18, 2009.

Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir The Grammy-nominated Cultural Heritage Choir is an African-American Roots Music Ensemble. This percussion driven, vocal ensemble is dedicated to preserving and sharing the rich musical traditions of African American roots music. On stage, Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir might look like a quintet, but when the group gets a groove on, drawing from the entire history of African American music, the vocal/percussion ensemble sounds like multitudes.

An original member of Bobby McFerrins Voicestra, Linda Tillery spent decades researching African American music. The choir gave her the means to weave all the threads - field shouts and spirituals, blues and gospel, work songs, R&B, funk and jazz - into an innovative trip through the riches of traditional African-American music.

Linda Tillery
Whale & Jazz Festival Arena Theater 2009, poster by Hall Kelley
  by Hall Kelley
8½"x14"   PDF icon 164 KB pdf
Tillery is a veteran vocalist, percussionist, producer and cultural historian whose career has spanned 34 years. Since the 1960s, Tillery has been regarded as one of the San Francisco Bay Area's most versatile singers. Her powerful, shimmering alto voice has been showcased in the Loading Zone, Zasu Pitts Memorial Orchestra, the Solid Sender's, as well as Bobby McFerrin's Voicestra.

A native San Franciscan, Linda has Texas soul, rooted in her mother's stories and food, and her uncle Tom Anderson's deft blues whistle. These Texas expatriates anchored her earliest memories in an older musical tradition when the contemporary sound pronounced it old-fashioned. The sound of artists such as Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Bill Doggett, Dinah Washington, Clyde McPhatter, Faye Adams and Ruth Brown were all a part of Linda's early music education.

Whether as vocalist, percussionist or producer, Tillery has performed on over 100 recordings by and with such artists as the Whispers, Boz Skaggs, Turtle Island String Quartet, Huey Lewis and the News, Holly Near, Santana, Hans Theessink, Kenny Loggins, Eric Bibb, Taj Mahal, Kelly Joe Phelps, Bonnie Hayes, Keola Beamer, Bobby McFerrin, Ray Obiedo, Wilson Pickett, Odetta, Richie Havens and many others. She has contributed vocals to the Marlon Riggs films Color Adjustment, Fear of Disclosure, No Regrets and Black Is, Black Ain't. In 1993 Tillery narrated the award-winning Pacifica Radio program A Burst of Light, A Tribute To Audre Lorde.

While singing for the play Letters From A New England Negro in 1992, Tillery was introduced to some field recordings of traditional African-American music. "My God," she exclaimed, "this is what I've been looking for!" Tillery poured over documentary recordings and ethnomusicology research to uncover a treasure-trove of spirituals, work songs, field hollers, and slave songs. Within months, she assembled the Cultural Heritage Choir: Rhonda Benin, Elouise Burrell, Melanie DeMore, and Simon Monserrat.

These songs are "survival music," Tillery explains, "This music, particularly the spirituals, has kept Black people alive through slavery, night rider's raids, and segregation. This is the music that has been used as a support for just about every political movement in this country. People take spirituals, reword them and march together in the name of freedom and justice."

Tickets are $20 in advance, $5 more at the Arena Theater box office, if available. Buy tickets online, or at The Sea Trader and Four-Eyed Frog Books in Gualala, Roots in Point Arena, and Tangents in Fort Bragg.