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The Sheldon refuses to stay shut down, live music back in the fall

Peter Palermo, executive director of The Sheldon, said it was difficult for the organization to be optimistic about its future during its pandemic pause
Credit: St. Louis American
Dianne Reeves, a five-time Grammy winner who was recently named a National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master, will help St. Louis celebrate its new year with a Jan. 22, 2022 concert at The Sheldon.

ST. LOUIS — Dianne Reeves part of 2021-22 season

The Sheldon returns with its 2021-22 concert season, featuring two signature series – Sheldon Folk and Coffee Concerts - full of performances that highlight and explore soulful renditions with folklore embodiment. The Sheldon Rhythm and Jazz series, made up of new and postponed performances, include some of the best of the best within the genre.

Peter Palermo, executive director of The Sheldon, said it was difficult for the organization to be optimistic about its future during its pandemic pause.

Collectively, the company’s board and staff decided that no matter the outcome they would still present live music this season.

“We made a commitment that no matter how many tickets we sold we were going to continue,” Palermo said. “I think by fall we’ll have a full season and be at full capacity again, that’s the plan.”

New Orleans native and jazz drummer, Herlin Riley kicks off the Sheldon Rhythm & Jazz series on Nov. 21. His style of music accurately demonstrates the passion and vibrant energy of the “Big Easy.”

His career as a budding percussionist first began between the late 1970s and early 1980s. He’s had the honor and luxury to play for jazz extraordinaires pianist Ahmad Jamal and world-renowned trumpeter Wynton Marsaalis, combining regal cadences to the production. Since releasing new music for Mack Avenue Records, Riley’s “New Direction,” project is one that’s pleasing to the ear and an experience like no other.

The incomparable Dianne Reeves continues the series on Jan. 22 with her chilling angelic vocals that encompass the perfect mix of R&B and jazz arrangements. Reeves is a five-time Grammy Award winner for Best Jazz Vocal Album, Juilliard awarded her with an honorary doctorate of music and she was named National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master in 2018.

A tribute perfectly fitting for three jazz and soul vocal powerhouses will happen on March 5 performed by Charenée Wade, Camille Thurman and Tahira Clayton. The performance will be produced by Grammy-winning Eli Wolf and have arrangements by pianist and musical director Carmen Staff. The performance is associated with the Women in Jazz Organization and supported by an all-female band.

I think hearing women's voices in jazz, especially Black women's voices in jazz who have been at the forefront in the artistry and have been less recognized by history, is paramount in putting out an incredible legacy of talent,” Palermo said. “It's good to remind everybody of the incredible singers that have come through the jazz age and still resonate today.”

For the Sheldon Folk series, South Carolina-based folklore group Ranky Tank, and Dom Flemons, Grammy-winning co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops will take us on a southern journey on Oct. 15 when they perform classic music of The Gullah culture—African Americans who reside in the lower region of the coast. They are known to maintain their African language and societal heritage. 

“The southern journey will make us feel like we stepped into the Carolinas for a night,” Palermo said. “The gullah culture is really interesting to hear about and listening to the music of that culture is great.”

St. Louis native and one of the city’s most prominent voices, Anita Jackson will join The Sheldon for a two-night event on April 19 & 20. This will be her Coffee Concert series debut, she has sung as a featured vocalist with numerous blues, gospel, R&B and jazz groups locally. Every time she graces the stage she gives it her all and leaves the audience in awe of her gift.

Delfeayo Marsalis, acclaimed trombonist, and brother of Wynton Marsalis & the Uptown Jazz Orchestra will grace The Sheldon stage for its special concert series on Oct. 21.

Palermo said he saw him live in concert a couple of years ago in New York and that his performance felt like a party.

His band was having so much fun and they brought such a shot of New Orleans to a little basement club in New York that I just had a ball,” Palermo said. “It's gonna be a lot of fun, it’ll feel like New Orleans is in the house that night.”

Palermo said The Sheldon’s mission is always to provide diversity in music to its audience and  showcase performers who exude incredible musicianship.

“What we try to do with The Sheldon is highlight excellent performers and make sure that we are covering as many territories as possible as far as the genres and the music we’re offering,” Palermo said.

“The intent is always to bring virtuosos and real authentic performers that put their whole heart into what they’re doing. That’s what we’re after, we’re not about glitz and show. We’re about musicianship, skill, craft, and heart.”

Learn more, here: https://www.thesheldon.org/.