A Night Of… continue their series of events paying homage to the pillars of black-origin music this winter.
Featuring pivotal artists or shining a light on establishments that have contributed so much to the scene, their parties at London's iconic Jazz Café are nights of real nostalgic indulgence.
Here’s what you can expect in the coming months, with added notes on why the subject of each event is a worthy.
A Night Of Stevie - Jazz Café, 10th December
One of the all time greats, Stevie Wonder is a real-life superhero. The fact he is visually-impaired only serves to magnify his legend and is testament that music transcends . His 25 Grammy wins are still a record for a solo artist and he can count himself amongst inductees into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. But it’s that radiating smile and boundless positivity, that make Stevie so endearing. A skilled pianist with a real knack for churning out anthems, this night will showcase just how prolific the Detroit-native has been in a fifty-plus year career.
A Night Of Amy - Jazz Café, 1st January
An unassuming Jewish girl making jazz vocals popular in the noughties and becoming a cultural icon, was an incredible feat as it was, without the media sideshow that marvelled at her public downfall and untimely passing. If we can take any solace from Amy’s tragically short life and career, it is the timeless gift of her music that she left us with. While we continue to mourn the loss of one of our truly great artists, this night will celebrate her peerless talent. That seductive and oh so unique voice. Fittingly, this tribute night will take place in Camden - Amy’s town. At the end of the day, all she wanted to do was sing. And all we want to do is listen.
A Night Of Motown (60th Anniversary) - Islington Assembly Hall, 12th January
Nobody does soul music quite like Motor City. Legendary label exec Berry Gordy was a trailblazing talisman, father figure and renowned womaniser, who cast Motown in his image and made household names out Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight. Motown was in fact, the first black-owned and run record label, making Gordy a visionary who paved the way for Sean Combs, Russell Simmons and Randy Jackson. The Motown back-catalogue, alumni and distinct sound is so established, that it continues to wield great influence over music in the modern day.
A Night Of Luther - Jazz Café, 21st January
Another child prodigy, largely self-taught, he would go on to become one of the century’s greatest musical artists. The Velvet Voice melted hearts with his tenor range with pop sensibilities. His long list of collaborators include Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson and latterly even Beyoncé. Vandross’ sexuality came under scrutiny throughout his career. It is perhaps sad that he felt pressured to his personal lifestyle, at a time when it was less socially accepted. The media speculation, detracting from his unassailable creativity. In decades to come, it will be his music that he will be remembered and immortalised by.
A Night Of Whitney (Valentine’s Special) - Jazz Café, 18th February
Whitney Houston was another diva whose light dimmed far sooner than it should have. So much so, it could be argued she never even quite reached her full potential. Not only a star of radio, but a star of screen and stage too, Whitney spawned a thousand imitators but few emulators. Still so influential six years from her passing. Her music is the song for budding singers and often she is the artist who soundtracks those big moments for lovers, making her the perfect choice for a Valentine’s special devoted to her gift.
A Night Of D’Angelo - Jazz Café, 18th March
D’Angelo is a musical enigma and one of the leading protagonists of the neo-soul movement that exploded in the 90s. He is best known to wider-audiences because of the above video, that subsequently turned him into a global sex icon. But D’Angelo was never about the cult of celebrity, and far less one that flaunted overt sexuality. Following two critically acclaimed masterpieces in Brown Sugar and Voodoo, the Virginian singer-songwriter took leave to battle personal demons.
We thought that may have been the last we saw of him. But some fifteen years later, he emerged reborn with a much-heralded third album. D’Angelo might not occupy the same level of public consciousness as Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu - but he deserve to. And a night dedicated to his music is a fitting tribute.
Tickets for the above shows are on sale now.