Carolina Performing Arts excels in showcasing living legends.
Jazz legend McCoy Tyner ignored intermission last fall, playing through a full set with little rest.
Classical pianist Leon Fleisher performed last spring after rescheduling because of previous illness.
Tonight, Carolina Performing Arts is bringing two R&B pioneers to one stage.
See the show:
Time: 7:30 p.m. tonight
Location: Memorial Hall
Mavis Staples and Allen Toussaint will both appear at Memorial Hall in a showcase of their contributions to the music industry.
Though the two, both in their 70s, are not scheduled to perform together, the show promises to be powerful.
Chris Reali, a third-year doctoral student at UNC studying musicology of popular music, said almost all songs out today are indebted to the artists.
“No matter what you listen to today, there’s a direct line that goes back to the music that Toussaint and Staples were making in the ’50s and ’60s,” he said. “There’s a sample or a beat that’s present in music today.”
Ellen James, manager of marketing and communication for the Executive Office for the Arts, said the songs Staples and Toussaint are known for have been sampled and remade throughout the years by artists like Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige — and she has used that to sell the concert to students.
“We’re reaching out in a way to say, ‘This is definitely two people who are worth seeing’,” she said. “It’s such an energetic, raw, amazing night of great music.”
Both artists arose out of the crossover era in the 1950s and ’60s — when many black became popular among white audiences.
Staples began singing gospel as a teenager as a part of the Staple Singers. Reali said the group reached critical fame with their song, “I’ll Take You There.”
Toussaint, out of New Orleans, La., started with Atlantic Records, which soon became one of the most high-profile R&B labels in the country.
Reali — whose reflection on Staples and Toussaint is featured in the concert’s program — said his research showed him how influential Toussaint is as a writer.
“He is really an unsung hero,” he said. “He’s not a front man.”
Toussaint wrote such iconic songs as “Ride Your Pony,” recorded by Lee Dorsey in 1966, and “I Like It Like That,” recorded by Chris Kenner in 1961. He has also written for The Rolling Stones and Christina Aguilera.
James said that even if students haven’t heard of Staples or Toussaint, the show is worth attending.
“They’re active performers,” she said. “It’s great we’ve got them both at the same time to take a break from their touring to come to the Memorial Hall stage.”
Toussaint’s manager, Clarence Toussaint, said in an email that Toussaint performed Tuesday night in New Orleans, where he will return after his show tonight for another performance.
Staples is also touring, traveling to Austin, Texas, Friday for the Austin City Limits music festival. She appeared at Bonnaroo earlier this summer.
“For $10, you can see two amazing, gifted musicians,” Reali said. “If you didn’t like it, it’s the cost of two beers.”
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