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Georgia natives quartet brings jazz sounds to Gainesville
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Shawn Megorden performs Saturday at The Art Council's Smithgall Arts Center in Gainesville as part of the Evenings of Intimate Jazz series.


Shawn Megorden, vocalist for the Shawn Megorden Quartet, talks about her musical history.

Shawn Megorden will bring her lifelong passion for jazz music to Gainesville on Saturday night.

The Carrollton native, vocalist for the Shawn Megorden Quartet, has been singing and performing since she was 8 years old. She said she picked up the tools of the trade from her mother.

"My mom was a professional pianist in Atlanta - she played at all the hotels - and she taught piano and voice lessons in my home, which was really nice because I had my own built-in accompanist," Megorden said in a phone interview earlier this week.

Her quartet is set to perform at 8 p.m. at The Arts Council's Smithgall Arts Center at 331 Spring St. as part of the council's Evenings of Intimate Jazz series.

Megorden, who will be joined by Robert Strickland on piano, Mark Bynum on bass and Paul Fallat on drums, has opened for Diane Schuur and has been a featured vocalist at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta and the Ford Theatre in Washington, D.C.

She recently signed a contract with Vivid Sound Corp. to distribute a CD she recorded last year, "Cover Girl," with Strickland and Bynum, among others.

"These ... are some of my favorite songs I've loved over the years by some of my favorite artists," Megorden said.

Strickland, co-producer of "Cover Girl," has played in the Atlanta Pops Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Alabama Symphony, and he has performed in concerts featuring Schurr, Joni Mitchell, Lena Horne, Brian Wilson and Lionel Hampton.

He also provided orchestrations on Megorden's CD.

Bynum has played with The Robert Ray Orchestra, Col. Bruce Hampton and Blueground Undergrass.

Fallat has performed with the Smothers Brothers and been in opening acts with Herbie Hancock, John Scofield, Glen Campbell and Spyro Gyra.

Megorden, 41, said as part of her musical journey she "fell into doing band gigs and corporate parties."

She also dabbles in some rhythm and blues, but she particularly loves singing jazz "because it's relaxing and you get to sing in all different colors of your voice," she said.

"You get to belt, you get to sing softly - all the dynamics are there, which I really love. It's more of a challenge."

Megorden has performed in Gainesville with the South City Voices/Northwinds Symphonic Band concert as a part of the 2005-2006 Evenings of Intimate Jazz season.

Tickets for Saturday's concert are $25 per person and can be bought online or by calling 770-534-2787. Drink glasses, ice, coffee and light snacks are included in the ticket price.