10Holidays Jazz music changed American culture in the 1920s and ’30s, combining African and European influences. Originating in the bayous in and around New Orleans, Louisiana, jazz rocked the nation, reshaping the culture and leaving a lasting impression that has endured generations. From Louis Armstrong to Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and more, jazz changed America. It made us better. Dec. 1, celebrate the holidays – and the magic of jazz – at Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra’s “Home for the Holidays,” featuring renowned New York jazz vocalist Gabrielle Stravelli. 

Harkening back to USO shows, this concert combines the warmth of the holidays with the swinging, toe-tapping magic of jazz. Paying tribute to legends like Fitzgerald, Ellington and Stan Kenton, it’s a surefire way to set your heart right for the holidays. 

“Our music director, Stefan Sanders, found Gabrielle by reaching out to some friends he had in New York,” said FSO President and CEO Christine Kastner. “We looked at her materials and thought she was a perfect fit. We are doing lots of Ella Fitzgerald, and Gabrielle does a great job and will be a great fit. She is really fun.” 

An award-winning vocalist and songwriter, Stravelli’s musical reach is wide. Exploring artists that include Willie Nelson, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder and John Fogerty, she’s put her own stamp on a variety of work. 

In 2018 Stravelli served as a U.S. State Department “Jazz Ambassador,” touring Southeast Asia. She headlined the WBGO Jazz on the Mountain Festival and released “Dream Ago,” her third album. The album received rave reviews from sources including DownBeat Magazine, the HuffPost, Scott Yanow of LA Jazz Scene and Tony Frankel of LA’s Stage and Cinema. 

In addition, she and her trio toured Italy and Norway – and in the U.S.: New Jersey; Lancaster, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania; Detroit, Michigan; Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland in Ohio; Austin, Texas; Los Angeles and San Francisco in California; Las Vegas, Nevada; and the greater Washington D.C. area. 2014- 2017 were equally busy. 

After FSO’s “Home for the Holidays,” guests will likely get to meet Stravelli in person. “Typically, when we have a guest artist, we will get them to come out to the lobby to meet people,” said Kastner. 

Stravelli is not the only guest sharing the spotlight with the orchestra. “The older children’s choirs from Fayetteville Academy will perform again this year,” Kastner said. “About 25 students will be performing.” 

The concert will include many holiday favorites. Come early to hear the Music Nerd speak about the music and composers featured in the show in addition to other fun facts. For example, in 1948, Leroy Anderson composed “Sleigh Ride.” In 1949, Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops recorded it. Today, it holds the title of most widely recorded and performed piece of Christmas music, according to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. 

The pre-concert talk with the Music Nerd begins at 6:45 p.m. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Visit the FSO website, www.fayettevillesymphony.org, for tickets and information. 

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