April 24, 2010 9:56:00 PM
With vocals ranging from a "melancholic whisper to a full-blown juke joint holler" and piano chops to cry for, Eden Brent melds jazz, blues, boogie woogie and soul into a singular earthy blend.
The Columbus Arts Council presents the International Blues Challenge solo/duo winner Friday, April 30, at the Rosenzweig Arts Center''s Omnova Theater in downtown Columbus. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are $8 at the arts center at 501 Main St., or through PayPal at www.columbus-arts.com. Tickets at the door, if available, will be $10.
Mississippi Number One
Brent''s 2008 sophomore album, "Mississippi Number One" on Yellow Dog Records, celebrates her deep Delta roots, along two-lane Highway 1. With it, she garnered double Blues Music Awards in 2009 -- for Acoustic Artist of the Year and Acoustic Album of the Year. The Greenville native is also a 2010 BMA nominee for the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year Award. Ceremonies will be held May 6 in Memphis, Tenn.
Growing up, Brent was surrounded by musical influences. Her mother was a Big Band singer; her father played guitar and sang Hank Williams.
"We did a lot of singing around the kitchen table, passing the guitar back and forth," she shared in a previous interview with The Commercial Appeal.
"Mississippi Number One" is dedicated to Brent''s late mother, Carole, who died in 2006, shortly after her daughter won the Blues Foundation''s International Blues Challenge. Carole Brent wrote three of the songs that would eventually make it onto the album.
Boogie woogie master Abie "Boogaloo" Ames also had a major impact on Brent''s musical development.
The late Ames could be heard on several early Motown tracks, but by the 1960s had relocated to Greenville.
For 16 years, until his death in 2002, the elder musician mentored Brent. She earned the nickname "Little Boogaloo." Together they played gigs at the Kennedy Center and the 2000 Republican National Convention. They appeared in the 1999 PBS documentary, "Boogaloo and Eden: Sustaining the Sound" and in the 2002 South African production, "Forty Days in the Delta."
"Because of how great Boogaloo was, I really wanted to preserve his style. It''s not happening much that people are picking up the piano. People don''t even put pianos in their homes like they used to. The solo piano player is much more an endangered species than the solo guitar player," Brent told The Commercial Appeal.
The intimate Omnova Theater in Columbus is a cozy setting for her lush and husky sound. With seating limited to approximately 90, advance tickets are recommended. For more information, contact the CAC at 662-328-2787.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.