Song In My Soul: A Community Celebration of Mary Lou Williams
Saturday, April 23, 2022 | 5:00 pm
In partnership with NorthStar Church of the Arts, Duke Performances is pleased to present a community celebration of the life and work of pioneering pianist/composer Mary Lou Williams on Saturday, April 23rd. Featuring an intergenerational ensemble of Durham-based musicians, the event will highlight music from Williams’s wide-ranging 60-year career. Guest performers include Nnenna Freelon and more to be announced.
Mary Lou Williams seamlessly incorporated the full range of jazz styles into a singular voice. Her imprint can be heard distinctly in both the big band era of the 1930s and the emergence of bebop in the 1940s. She continued to expand her musical vision, breaking down boundaries of genre and representation; she wrote four masses, one of which – Mary Lou’s Mass – was performed at St. Peter’s Cathedral in New York City in a historic shift of Catholic liturgical practice.
Mary Lou Williams was a transcendent musician, and she was equally as profound in her commitment to community. She was generous and caring with musicians, family, and neighbors, often attending to others while she struggled to support herself. Whether in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, New York City, or Durham, Mary Lou invested herself in the nurturing of her community. Grounded by faith and using music as a tool, she was a healer by the time she arrived in Durham in 1977.
The energy Mary Lou invested in the community continues to resonate and it is the driving force of this event. We gather to celebrate Mary Lou’s life as well as her belief in a vibrant community.
Community health protocol: To minimize exposure to COVID-19 for patrons, artists, staff, and volunteers, the NorthStar Church of the Arts will continue to require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 48-hours of the presentation. Wearing face masks covering the nose and mouth as well as social distancing are also required.Made possible, in part, with support from the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.
I was like a mother or a sister or something like that. They came to me for advice and for inspiration.