Gospel’s Marilyn Keller in Concert – Jazz Australia Presents

The Gospel flavoured by the blues is coming to Melbourne – Jazz Australia presents U.S. Jazz, Blues and Gospel Diva, Marilyn Keller in Concert at St Andrew’s Church, Brighton on Sunday July 6, 2014.

Direct from Portland, Oregon, USA, Marilyn Keller’s only other Victorian appearance in her 2014 Australian tour will be at the Jazz Australia Concert in Queenscliff’s Uniting Church on Friday 4th July.

I chatted with Jazz Australia entrepreneur, Diana Allen about Marilyn Keller’s previous Victorian concerts.

Jazz fans were so thrilled by Marilyn’s magical stage presence and flawless thrilling vocals in Jazz Australia’s 2013 concerts, I immediately booked her for this year’s program, reported Diana.

I haven’t seen Marilyn live but I have heard her on DVD. Her vocals impart a purity and emotional depth that communicates beautiful sounds to your soul.

Marilyn was brought up in a Baptist Church where her father was an ordained minister.

A member of the choir from a young age, for the past 23 years, when she is not touring, Marilyn has been music coordinator for the ‘Augustana’ Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon. Church services regularly attract congregations of 700 plus.

A veteran of music and stage performance, Marilyn’s career has taken her all around the world as a featured artist for concerts, festivals and recording work.

She has also appeared on stage in the role of Ma Rainey, the legendary ‘Mother of the Blues’ and sung in a ‘truth and reconciliation tribute’ to Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Her musical roots, diverse, Marilyn’s formative jazz training was as a member of the Mt. Hood Community College Vocal Jazz Ensemble and as the vocalist fronting the award-winning MHCC Jazz Lab Band.

She is though, active in a wide variety of other performance ensembles and styles. Marilyn has a loyal following in the US Dixieland and Ragtime scene and currently performs and records with the Black Swan Band.

If you are wondering how gospel music got started it came out of the African American religious experience and can be traced back to the early 17th century.

The roots of Gospel music are to be found in the black oral tradition, and typically utilize a great deal of repetition.

The repetition of the words allowed those who could not read the opportunity to participate in worship. During this time, hymns and sacred songs were lined and repeated in a call and response fashion, often being used as Negro spirituals or work songs.

Guitars and tambourines, not always available, most churches relied on hand clapping and foot stomping as rhythmic accompaniment. Singing was often a cappella with church choirs only becoming the norm after the abolition of slavery.

The first published use of the term ?Gospel Song” appeared in 1874 when Philip Bliss (great name) released a songbook entitled Gospel Songs, A Choice Collection of Hymns and Tunes. A new style of church music, songs were easy to grasp and more easily singable than traditional church hymns.

Prior to this there was an American rural/frontier history of revival and camp meeting songs, but the gospel hymn was of a different character, and it served the needs of mass revivals in US towns and cities.

Gospel blues or holy blues is a form of blues-based gospel music that has been around since the inception of blues music, a combination of blues guitar and evangelistic lyrics – the music is the blues, the lyrics providing the Gospel message. Marilyn Keller’s greatest influences have been Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday and Mahalia Jackson – singers of amazing grace and beauty.

Perhaps, they will be with her in spirit when Marilyn’s haunting, tender, soulful tones, accompanied by a stellar line-up of Australia’s leading jazz musicians, fill the beautiful St. Andrew’s Church, Brighton.

Diana Allen of Jazz Australia was especially excited to add that Marilyn Keller will be backed by the Steve Grant Quintet comprising: Steve Grant on piano; Jonathan Hunt, clarinet and sax; Matt Jodrell, trumpet; Michelle Scully, bass and Ian Smith, drums.

These musicians, all virtuoso performers in their own right will provide a brilliant bluesy accompaniment to Marilyn Keller’s extraordinary spellbinding voice.

Janet Walker, Victorian Correspondent, The Culture Concept Circle, 2013

Marilyn Keller in Concert

Presented by Diana Allen of Jazz Australia.

Queenscliff Concert

Friday 4th July at 5pm, Uniting Church, Hesse Street, Queenscliff

Brighton Concert

Sunday, July 6th at 2.00 pm, St. Andrew’s Church, Corner Church and New Streets, Brighton

Refreshments will be served at interval and a bar service will be available.

Booking Online

Booking By Phone – Jazz Australia (03) 5258 3936



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