OK Mozart announces Grammy award winning Catherine Russell in concert lineup

OK Mozart announces Grammy award winning Catherine Russell in concert lineup

Rhiannon Giddens accepts Broadway role.


BARTLESVILLE, Okla. — OK Mozart is pleased to announce that Grammy Award winning Catherine Russell, of legendary musical heritage, and who the Wall Street Journal describes as “one of the outstanding singers of our time” will replace Rhiannon Giddens at the 2016 OK Mozart festival on Thursday, June 16.


Russell’s fifth album entitled “Bring it Back” will be the title of her performance at the OK Mozart festival, with the addition of the subtitle “Heiress to Blues and Jazz.”   The album showcases her voice that National Public Radio (NPR) describes as “wails like a horn and whispers like the snake in the Garden of Eden” adding “she’s finally claiming her place in the pantheon of 21st-century jazz divas.”  Russell hails from New York City and has performed in Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center, as well as a sold-out performance in the Kennedy Center.  She has performed on four continents to international acclaim. Her cover of the 1920s song “Crazy Blues” is among a Grammy-winning compilation soundtrack.


Reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James, Russell’s lineage is legendary. Her father, the late Luis Russell — a groundbreaking jazz musician in his own right — worked as Louis Armstrong’s long-time music director.  Her mother, the late Carline Ray, was a pioneering jazz musician who held dual degrees from Julliard and the Manhattan School of Music.  Raised in the midst of the music of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, Russell has not only been influenced by legends but has worked with a variety of pop legends as well, including Madonna, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Steely Dan, Michael McDonald and David Bowie.  In 2004, after Bowie quit touring, Russell started her solo career, emerging as a retro old-school vocalist for the ages.


Festival favorite, Rhiannon Giddens — beloved by Bartians for several recent festival seasons — has accepted a lead role on Broadway in “Shuffle Along” from June through September.  OK Mozart Executive Director Randy Thompson states, “We are really proud of Rhiannon and her accomplishments.  Of course we’re sad that she can’t be a part of the festival this year but she has promised to return next year and we wish her well in her endeavors. As always, things tend to work out for the best and we are thrilled that someone of Catherine Russell’s caliber is available and so gracious.”

Standard industry practice for performers includes a rider in their contract that indicates they may be released from their obligations in cases such as a major theatrical, television, or film offer.  Ms. Giddens was scheduled to perform at the Friday evening Woolaroc concert as well and a replacement search is underway, in conjunction with Lauren Green, conductor of the Bartlesville Symphony Orchestra.

About OK Mozart

For the past 32 years, the OK Mozart Festival has taken place each June in Bartlesville and is made possible through the support of the Oklahoma Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, Mid-America Arts Alliance, ConocoPhillips, Phillips66, the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits and individual, corporate and foundation patrons throughout the USA. For more information on the festival, visit okmozart.com.