Evenings of Intimate Jazz series featuring Maria Howell When: 8 p.m. Saturday Where: The Arts Council’s Smithgall Arts Center, 331 Spring St., Gainesville Tickets: $30, $25 each for groups of six or more, season tickets $140 More info: 770-534-2787
Evenings of Intimate Jazz series featuring Maria Howell
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Arts Council’s Smithgall Arts Center, 331 Spring St., Gainesville
Tickets: $30, $25 each for groups of six or more, season tickets $140
More info: 770-534-2787
A Georgia native who made it big in music and entertainment will bring her one-woman show to Gainesville this weekend.
Atlanta singer Maria Howell will perform contemporary hits and jazz standards, plus songs from "The Color Purple," in a concert Saturday at the Smithgall Arts Center. The event, scheduled for 8 p.m., is part of The Arts Council's Evenings of Intimate Jazz series.
Howell says she wanted to be a professional singer since age 6. She was influenced by jazz legends such as Billie Holliday even as her friends were listening to rock ‘n' roll, R&B and hip-hop. She came from a musical family as well; both her mother and uncle were musicians, her uncle once touring with Jimi Hendrix.
"When I was 6, I didn't know what a ‘passion' was — it was more of a, ‘OK, this is what I'm going to do,'" she said. "I was looking in the mirror, and it was as though a spiritual experience happened. It was as though I had a glimpse of my future.
"I remember finding a picture in my mom and dad's house of my father's mother ... then I came across a picture of Billie Holiday, and I thought she looked like my grandmother."
The performance in Gainesville follows her 25th anniversary concert in Charlotte, where she began her professional career.
The first big break of her career came in 1985 when she played a choir girl in the film "The Color Purple." In the role, she stepped forward toward the congregation during a powerful rendition of "God is Trying to Tell You Something."
That started her career as both a singer and an actress on stage, television and films. She had roles in "Army Wives," "House of Payne" and the Academy Award-winning film "The Blind Side."
As a singer, she has opened for Ray Charles and performed with the Cab Calloway Orchestra and a duet with R&B artist Baby Face.
"I think if you have a better acting ability, it helps you deliver the song," she said. "I actually see singing helping out the acting first, but the acting definitely helps out the performing aspect of the singing.
"From that experience, through my career I would look in the mirror and say, ‘God, am I doing the right thing?' I would talk to myself in the mirror, which kind of kept me grounded and reminded that this was what I was meant to do."
Other performances in the Evenings of Intimate Jazz Season include the Annie Sellick Quartet on Jan. 7; the Kevin Bales Trio on Feb. 5; Sasha Masakowski and Musical Playground on March 12; the Morgan Guerin Quintet on April 16; and Steve Cunningham and Friends on May 13.
Season tickets are still available for $140 and provide admission to all performances. Tickets to Saturday's concert are $30, $25 each for groups of six or more. For more information, contact the Arts Council at 770-534-2787.