Fine and Mellow,Sweet and Sassy: April is the birth month of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. Join vocalist Cilla Owens and her ensemble in a celebration inspired by the music of these great ladies of song as well as that of Betty Carter, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Thelonius Monk and other Jazz icons.
Priscilla “Cilla” Owens has been described as being “as smooth as Nancy Wilson, as authoritative as Sarah Vaughan, and as informed as Carmen McRae” (Jazz Times). Her credits include performances at Lincoln Center, the Blue Note, Symphony Space, Carnegie Hall, The Stevan Dweck Center for Contemporary Culture, the New York Historical Society, and the Brooklyn Museum. She has performed in Germany and the Caribbean, as well as in the Annual Festival of Jewish Music in Krakow, Poland, and the Blues to Bop Festival in Lugano, Switzerland, both with saxophonist Paul Shapiro’s Ribs and Brisket Revue. The Ribs and Brisket Revue has appeared at numerous venues and special events, such as the Oyhoo Festival’s Bringing Down the Roof, the Eldridge Street Museum Annual Awards Celebration, The Simon Wiesenthal Foundation Awards Celebration, and the 2008 Inaugural Ball at the National Synagogue. Cilla has appeared regularly at popular New York venues including the Cornelia Street Café, the City Winery, and Don’t Tell Mama. She has enjoyed a long association with singer Gregory Maninakis and his Mikrokosmos ensemble, and she has been a featured vocalist in their Greek blues festival, Rebetika.
For several years Cilla has trained students in Jazz repertoire as director of the Hunter Jazz Vocal Workshop. She counts as one of the memorable events at Hunter singing at The Sinatra Centennial Concert with the Hunter Symphony and Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Reuben Blundell. Cilla is also the director of Jazzvox, a performance ensemble comprised of several Hunter alumni as well as other talented performers from a variety of musical backgrounds. For over a decade she was a member of The Great Day Chorale, dedicated to the preservation of the Negro Spiritual, under the direction of the late musicologist Louvinia Pointer. In 2011 she organized a reunion concert of its former members. Voices Of Vision came together at the Stevan Dweck Center in celebration of Mrs. Pointer’s contributions to the cultural life of New York City. In 2015, Voices of Vision appeared with Jacques D’Amboise’s National Dance Institute’s Event of the Year, providing the live track for the dance Steal Away. That year, as well as in 2016, she was the featured vocalist at their Symphony Space performances.
Cilla was chosen as the first Katowitz-Radin Artist in Residence for the Brooklyn Collection of the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library in 2015. As such she had access to their vast collection of playbills, programs, and sheet music dating back to the late 1890’s. Two of the performance projects resulting from her research were Lebendig in Brooklyn, which described the thriving Yiddish theater beyond Second Avenue, and Motown and Beyond, a tribute to the live performances at the Fox and Paramount Theaters.
Priscilla holds a second B.A. and Master’s Degree in Performance from Hunter College. While there she met pianist/composer/arranger Glafkos Kontemeniotis. Glafkos, along with fellow Hunter alumni Ed Kollar and Vince Kazi McCoy, formed the trio Monk for President several years ago. Joined by saxophonist Sylvester Scott, Cilla Owens and Monk for President can be heard on the CD ‘Tis What It Is.
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