Matinee Performance Sunday Oct 14th 2pm
Jazz vocalist Mardra Thomas shares songs in a way that allow you to experience memorable and musically touching moments. Pianist Reggie Thomas, Rodney Whitaker on bass and percussionist Randy Gelispie accompany her in her first solo concert in the Mid-Michigan area. The Creole Gallery offers a perfect setting to step back in time and hear the fundamentals of jazz voice that evolve into fresh arrangements of some of the best loved songs along with a few new selections which will undoubtedly be added to your favorites list. Performances Thursday Oct 11th & Sunday Oct 14th
Mardra Thomas (Vocalist/Actress)is known for her realistic portrayal of Billie Holiday in concert and on the theatrical stage. Mardra is a true jazz vocalist with a voice well suited to showcase Holiday’s sculptured phrasing that stamped a signature style on jazz singing. Her music career was sparked in the St. Louis area when she performed for the opening of Dizzy Gillespie’s 70th Birthday Concert. Shortly thereafter she found herself trading scat solos with world-class trumpeter Clark Terry while performing with the East St. Louis Lincoln Big Band under the direction of renowned educator Ronald Carter. Curtains were opened for the theatrical stage when Mardra debuted in Unity Theatre’s “COTTON CLUB REVUE; she went on to deliver stunning interpretations performing in the roles of Bessie and Sadie Delaney-HAVING OUR SAY, Lady in Green-FOR COLORED GIRLS, Power Woman-MENOPAUSE THE MUSICAL, Billie Holiday-LADY DAY AT THE BOSTON BISTRO and LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR AND GRILL, and as Mama/Mildred-Terry McMillan’s MAMA at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston/Salem NC.
For five years Mardra was the resident vocalist for the St. Louis Sheldon Concert Hall’s youth educational program “The Jazz Story. Her sultry voice can be heard in radio and TV spots and is released on CD recordings such as “Fade To Blue”(Max Jazz Records), “Standard Times (Victoria Records), as the Flying Jazz Kitten in Sharon Burch’s “Freddie the Frog” music educational book/CD series (Mystic) and the recently released“Better Than Alright”(MSU’s-College of Music).
“Critics say Thomas may be the best vocalist to interpret Holiday”, Her vocal styling and portrayal of “Lady Day” have mesmerized audiences across the country.” -St. Louis Jazz Notes
“…Mardra, a vocalist and actress whose experience in theater brings an extra dimension to her interpretations of song lyrics.”-The Riverfront Times
"Mardra Thomas brings the character of Mama to full-blooded, fully rounded life. Especially fine are Thomas' scenes with Bonnie Harmon…" – The Riverfront Times
"Mardra Thomas is gripping as Mildred, Her scenes with her good-hearted sister-in-law (Bonnie Harmon) snap with the authenticity of overheard conversation."- St. Louis Post Dispatch