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Michael McDonald, Jonathan Butler headline Queen City Jazz Fest
Showcase also includes Al B. Sure, regional acts
Published Friday, June 14, 2019 12:45 am
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

Jonathan Butler is among the acts signed to play the Queen City Jazz Fest June 15 at Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater.

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Michael McDonald will headline the Queen City Jazz Fest.

The former Doobie Brothers lead singer is atop the marquee for the fifth annual festival, sponsored by WBAV-FM (V 101.9) and WKQC-FM (K 104.7). The “Jazz Under the Stars” themed concert will take place on June 15 at the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater. The single-day show will feature local and national jazz artists in addition to McDonald with live performances by Jonathan Butler, Gerald Albright and Al B. Sure.

McDonald is accomplished, with five Grammys and top-selling collaborations with prominent artists. McDonald's career started in Los Angeles in the early 1970s as a studio musician before joining the rock group Steely Dan. In the mid-’70s, he joined the Doobie Brothers as lead singer, keyboardist and songwriter. He’s performed with the likes of Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Vince Gill and Thundercat.

Albright, a Los Angeles native, was an accomplished saxophonist as a teenager, but switched to bass after seeing Louis Johnson in concert. A few months after graduating from college, he joined jazz pianist and singer Patrice Rushen's band and replaced her bassist when he left during a tour. As a saxophonist and bassist, Albright became a session and touring musician in the 1980s, working with the likes of Anita Baker, Ray Parker Jr., Atlantic Starr, the Temptations, Earth Wind & Fire’s Maurice White, Teena Marie, the Winans and Whitney Houston.

Albright went solo at the dawn of the smooth jazz format, with "Just Between Us" in 1987 with chart-topping hits over a 30-year run. Between his last two Grammy-nominated solo albums "Pushing The Envelope" (2010) and "Slam Dunk" (2014), he collaborated on a pair of other Grammy-nominated Best Pop Instrumental albums: "24/7" with guitarist Norman Brown and "Summer Horns" by Dave Koz and Friends.

Butler, who grew up in Cape Town, South Africa during the country's apartheid era. He released his first album in 1973 and won South Africa's Best New Artist Grammy a year later at age 12. Butler was the first black artist played on white South African radio while earning three gold records in 1975 as a teenager.

After moving to London a decade later, Butler's self-titled album earned gold status in 1987 in the United Kingdom and America. He earned Grammy nominations for Best R&B Song for his R&B-pop vocal hit “Lies” and for Best Jazz Song for “Going Home,” an instrumental.  “I don’t think I’ve ever really celebrated these moments in my life," Butler wrote on his website. "I’ve spent my whole life taking care of people ever since I was seven. And I’m grateful, but this is the season of me.”

Tickets are on sale at the Fillmore Charlotte box office and PNC Music Pavilion box office.


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