South African Lorraine Klassen for Jazz Under the Stars
Once you have seen and heard her, you will never forget her. Ask anyone who has seen South African recording artiste Lorraine Klassen on stage, and they would be sure to describe her as the one with the electrifying stage presence and dynamic voice range.
It seems Jamaicans can’t get enough of Klassen, and she has been invited to return to the island from her home base in Montreal, Canada, to perform for Jazz Under the Stars, to be held at Devon House on May 18, with all proceeds going towards the restoration of the historical Devon House structure. And Klassen is equally excited to return. “Coming back to Jamaica is like coming home. I am so looking forward to working with the extraordinary musicians and performers ... it is always a wonderful experience,” she said.
Klassen, daughter of late Jazz legend Thandi Klassen, was born and raised in Soweto and is one of the few South African artistes who have preserved the classic sound of ‘township music,’ which continues to be the most distinctive sound to come out of the country. The acclaimed world music star says her influences include South African musical giants such as Miriam Makeba, Dolly Rathebe, Dorothy Masuka, Sophie Mgcina and Busi Mhlongo.
The star released her first album, Free at Last, in 1994. Among her most celebrated work is Africa Calling (2008), which she says allowed her to accomplish her childhood dreams of taking township music to the rest of the world. In 2012, her song A Tribute to Miriam Makeba won her the 2013 Juno Award for World Music Album of the Year. Her most recent album, Nouvelle Journée, produced in 2016, was also her most ambitious, showcasing musical styles that she had not yet explored in her career. On the album she sings in the Tsonga, Sotho, isiZulu and Xhosa languages of South Africa, as well as English and French.
Also gracing the stage for Jazz Under the Stars will be a distinguished line-up of Jamaica’s A-list performers. Among them are first lady of jazz, Myrna Hague; the group Pa-Ka-Ge, consisting of vocalists Gem Myers, Karen Smith and Pat Edwards, women who are stars in their own right; Canadian-Jamaican singer Jay Douglas; and the Fab 5 Band.