When the Indie Collaborative held its all-faiths holiday show at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center, I fulfilled my desire to attend a seasonal live show before the year’s end. On Dec. 8, 2021, from 7-8:30 pm, the show featured more than 20 award-winning Indie Collaborative artists presenting their music. Meant for all ages and faiths, it celebrated the diversity of our seasonal celebrations. Produced by co-founders Eileen Sherman and Grant Maloy Smith — with Smith emceeing — the eclectic cast included jazz trumpeters, former Stomp performers, stars of stage and a lively ukulele aficionado.
Founded in 2015, The Indie Collaborative has become a vehicle for independent musicians and industry professionals (actors, poets, writers, dancers, make-up artists, producers, photographers) to connect with others in the creative arts. It puts on several kinds of events, from showcases to curated shows produced with members. There are chapter meetings and social events for its membership which includes over 2,000 collaborators from around the globe. Membership is free. There are only two requirements — be an industry professional and be dedicated to excellence in the arts.
The jazz community had a significant presence at this all-ages interfaith musical salute to Diwali, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas and the New Year. Jazz musicians Alex Otey, Nicole Zuraitis, Syreeta Thompson, Lucy Kalantari, Charu Suri, and The Levels were all part of a great cast of performers on the Bruno Walter stage.
Women musicians were a large part of the show as well. Jazz bandleader, recording artist Zuraitis is the premiere vocalist of the world-famous Birdland Big Band and for Dan Pugach Nonet, who were Grammy-nominated for their arrangement of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” She assembled an all-star female ensemble to record her project “Generations of Her: Women Songwriters and Lyricists of the Last 100 Years” while working on her sixth album as a leader.
Trumpet Lady Thompson is a Billboard Number 1 Album Topper with an upcoming documentary, “Blow Yo Horn”. She kicked off the event by displaying a vigorous demonstration of her instrumental mastery. Uke master Kalantari is a two-time Grammy Award Winner in Children’s music category with a new album, “What Kind of World” coming out with her group The Jazz Cats. Her rousing performance was full of energy and engaged the audience with an energetic sing-along.
In addition, multi-award-winning classical pianist and world music artist, Charu Sur performed a challenging composition combining jazz with ragas from her native India.
Also on stage were popular New York cabaret and soap opera actress Grace Garland as well as award-winning classical flutist and symphonic performer Joanne Lazzaro, Naumburg International Violin Competition Honorarium Prize winner. Then add featured Broadway violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Drama Desk Winner and one of “Broadway’s Best” Rachel York and IDEA Legacy Lifetime Achievement Award winning performer and producer Yocontalie and you have an amazing set.
Internationally acclaimed hip-hop, R&B, jazz, Latin, and Afrobeat group Levels combine two cast members of Stomp, an American Idol finalist, and two Italian music virtuosos to yield one energetic and stimulating performance. Then there was Billboard Top 10 American Roots recording artist Smith who brought in an emotional and touching rendition of two songs including “On This Day” and ““Christmas Eve in Times Square USA”.
The show’s grand finale brought everyone together as the entire cast on-stage performed a Smith classic “We’ll Stay Together” with lyrics in the program for audience sing-along. All told, the concert displayed an amazing array of talents and good work from Indie Collaborative members. What a way to close out a complicated year.
December 8, 2021
Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center
111 Amsterdam Avenue (between 64th-65th St.)
Produced by Eileen Sherman and Grant Maloy SmithEmcee: Grant Maloy Smith