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L'Tanya Mari' to jazz up Valentine's Day

February 10th, 2012 4:08 am by Staff report

L'Tanya Mari' to jazz up Valentine's Day

Courtesy of Pro-Art AssociationL'Tanya Mari' will perform twice in Southwest Virginia on Feb. 14 at 12:15 p.m. at Mountain Empire Community College and at 7:30 p.m. at the University of Virginia's College at Wise.


Growing up in Philadelphia, Pa., L’Tanya Mari’ says she was always surrounded by jazz.


“I remember hearing Charlie Parker’s recording of ‘April In Paris’ early on,” Mari’ said. “Noticing that I was resonating more with fusion in my teen years, my father tried to tip the scales a bit by buying me some of the earlier recordings of Sarah (Vaughan), Ella (Fitzgerald) and Carmen (McRae). That did it. By the time I was 17, I was out at record stores looking for other jazz vocal albums.”


In honor of Black History Month, Mari’ will make a stop in Wise County, Va., for two Valentine’s Day concerts. The first concert will begin at 12:15 p.m., Feb. 14 in Phillips-Taylor Hall of Mountain Empire Community College’s Goodloe Center in Big Stone Gap.


The second concert will be held at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 14 in the Chapel of All Faiths at the University of Virginia’s College at Wi s e . Admission is free to both concerts, which are presented by the Pro-Art Association and each college’s cultural arts series.


Early signs seemed to indicate Mari’ was going to be an instrumentalist , as she studied cello for seven years and then added piano to the mix.
“But as I tended to hum along with my cello playing, my cello teacher suggested that I should add singing to my list of goals,” she said.


While earning a bachelor’s degree in Music Business at Howard University, Mari’ was also on her way to becoming a notable jazz singer. She began studying with the celebrated drummer-singer Grady Tate, who helped influence her phrasing, urging her to always connect with an audience by really feeling the lyrics.


While living in Washington, D.C., and the North East Corridor, sitting in at jam sessions helped Mari’ secure gigs, build up her skills as a jazz singer and increase her repertoire.


Hungry for a deeper musical knowledge, Mari’ pursued a master’s degree in Jazz Studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia while coming into her own as a jazz singer.


Since her graduation, Mari’ has become an active music educator in addition to performing regularly throughout the Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., metro areas.


“I enjoy learning from my students. I have a roster of 40 students on average, and everyone is different,” Mari’ said. “Some are preparing to go to school for jazz vocal and studies, others just want to learn specific things like basic theory, while there are some who just want to learn how to feel comfortable singing in front of people. It is rewarding finding what they need and pass on the knowledge that I have.”


For more information on Mari’s Valentine’s Day concerts, call (276) 376-4520 or visit the Pro-Art website at w w w. p r o - a r t - v a . o r g .

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