Two of the best female vocalists in the business grace our region with midweek performances next week.
Jazzmeia Horn, a rising jazz star with an old-school soul, brings her considerable talents to the area for two shows with her quartet, Wednesday at the Hopkins Center for the Arts in Hanover, N.H., and Thursday at FlynnSpace in Burlington.
And Angelique Kidjo, a global pop star and three-time Grammy winner, delivers her lauded reimagining of the Talking Heads’ landmark 1980 album “Remain in Light” at the Flynn Center main stage on Wednesday.
Here’s a closer look at the two artists.
Fans of such legendary jazz singers as Sarah Vaughan, Abbey Lincoln and Betty Carter — and more contemporary standouts including Cassandra Wilson, Cécile McLorin Salvant and neo-soul singer Erykah Badu — will likely discover a lot to love about Jazzmeia Horn.
At 27, the rising jazz singer is “a virtuoso performer in command of a very powerful instrument,” according to the All Music Guide, with “titanic vocal skills (that) are matched by her depth of character and artistic purpose.”
Horn’s lauded debut album, “A Social Call,” has garnered widespread acclaim since its release two years ago on Concord Records. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album.
Jazziz called the album “an impressive first effort by a talented newcomer who shows great promise,” while Jazzwise called it “one of the singularly most powerful debuts of recent times.”
The stunning album is a result of Horn’s winning the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition in 2015, arguably the greatest accolade for rising jazz artists. Winners receive a recording deal with the Concord Music Group.
A supremely talented vocalist, Horn has an old-school soul that conjures a classic 1950s and ‘60s jazz sound while imparting more modern flavors like gospel and neo-soul. She imparts her signature vocal stamp on such evergreen standards as “East of the Sun (And West of the Moon)” and “I Remember You.” She couples other chestnuts like “Moanin’” and “Afro Blue” with spirituals “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and “Wade in the Water,” respectively, imparting all with her distinctive vocal work and approach.
Horn also shines on R&B nuggets popularized by Mary J. Blige (“I’m Goin’ Down”) and the Stylistics (“People Make the World Go Round”), and on songs associated with major influence Betty Carter, the opening “Tight” and the track that inspired the album title, “Social Call.”
The overall theme is one of social awakening — punctuated by a spoken-word introduction to “People Make the World Go Round” — and recalls the politically conscious albums of Nina Simone and Gil Scott-Heron.
The singer “harbors both astounding technique and an acute artistic vision,” said Downbeat. “Horn has a thrilling presence, with a musical sensibility that strikes a deft balance between mid-century jazz and contemporary neo-soul.
“When Jazzmeia Horn takes the stage, she owns it,” added Downbeat. “She exudes a fervid yet regal presence that commands respect, which augments her graceful singing.”
Called “Africa’s premier diva” by Time magazine, Angelique Kidjo, 58, is a widely celebrated West African-born New York City-based singer who “became a fixture of world music, pairing her unique, multilingual fusion of Afrobeat, pop, jazz, reggae, and various African traditions with collaborators who span multiple genres of music,” says the All Music Guide.
The BBC included Kidjo in its list of Africa’s 50 most iconic figures, while the Guardian included her as one of the Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World. And Forbes magazine ranked her as the first woman in their list of the Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa.
Known for her powerhouse live performances, Kidjo and her band will perform material from her latest and 13th album, a reimagining of the Talking Heads’ landmark 1980 album, “Remain in Light.”
The album “comes bursting out of the gates in a rollicking, irresistible wave of musical joy that only stops when the album is over, leaving the listener in a state of blessed disbelief,” says the All Music Guide. And the A.V. Club called it “a stunning transformation that sheds the nervous, alien nature of these well-worn songs, turning them into something more human, danceable, and, in some cases, more meaningful.”
Kidjo performs in advance of a new album, “Celia,” a tribute to the Afro-Cuban singer Celia Cruz that’s scheduled for release on April 19.