Working Girl Blues: American Roots Songs from the Female Perspective
- Ashkenaz, Berkeley CA
Please note: this is not a seated show.
Joan Baez says of her: “Marianne Aya Omac is an astonishing talent, new to many. A superb vocalist, guitar aficionado, and first-rate songwriter…” It’s the voice that first grabs listeners’ ears, but the power of the songs wins them over, whether sung in French, Spanish, or English. The charismatic French singer-songwriter-guitarist Marianne Aya Omac made her Bay Area debut at Ashkenaz a year ago in a concert of original songs, with a special guest appearance by the star who inspired Omac to become a singer: her fan Joan Baez, along with Baez’ son Gabriel Harris (the founder of Fairfax-based Rhythm Village, who apprenticed with the legendary Babatunde Olatunji and toured the world with him) on percussion. Baez returns tonight for another special appearance with Omac, who is accompanied by Harris and the heralded multi-instrumentalist and Americana legend Dirk Powell on bass, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and accordion (Powell and Harris are Baez’ touring band, as well). The trio recently completed a seven-week European tour. Powell is so in demand that he has worked with everyone from the Cajun band he co-founded, Balfa Toujours, to Jack White, Loretta Lynn, T-Bone Burnett in his various projects, and many film soundtracks.
Though her instrumental accompanists are stellar, the focus is all on Omac and her folk-rooted singing that ranges from a lullaby whisper to full gospel shouting. Hers is a rare and original talent. Omac composes songs that deal with important life issues from love to social justice. Much of her musical life has been involved with uniting life and cultural differences through music, from singing with gospel mass choirs to sharing the stage with world music greats at the Montreal African Nights Festival in 2010.
Not yet well-known in the U.S., Omac gained attention when Baez joined her in concert in 2009 in Omac’s home city, Montpellier, in southern France. But the connection is much older. Omac says that her mother gave her Baez’s “Live in Europe” album when she was 12 years old. “This day I decided to be a singer and began to play guitar.” For six years as a street singer, 300 days a year, Omac honed her music. Singing in a gospel choir, living in the gypsy neighborhood of Montpellier, and traveling in Latin America added to her music’s development. In 1997 she formed her own band and recorded two albums, then moved on to lead choirs, before choosing her current solo career.
Ashkenaz is the East Bay's home to world music & dance... established 1973; nonprofit since 1997. We are always all ages! Kids 12 & under are admitted free unless otherwise noted.
All of our online ticket sales are will call. We will have a list of ticket buyers at the door; you do not need to bring a printout of your ticket/order confirmation.
Doors open 30 minutes before showtime, or 30 minutes before the dance lesson if there is one, unless otherwise noted.
Ashkenaz's Café opens when doors open and offers beer (draft and bottled), wine, kombucha, juices, sodas, coffee and tea, and snacks and light meals (all vegetarian, mostly organic).
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