Kristin Chenoweth, Lea Salonga and More Set for 2013 Lincoln Center American Songbook Series

Kristin Chenoweth, Lea Salonga and More Set for 2013 Lincoln Center American Songbook SeriesNow in its 15th season, Lincoln Center’s acclaimed series American Songbook will expand its scope and offer two series that celebrate the best in American singing and songwriting. “American Songbook in The Allen Room” will run from January 30 through March 2, 2013 and will present 15 nights of music from Broadway old and new, rhythm & blues, country, pop, gospel, blues, rock, jazz, and folk. Then from March 29 through April 20 a new chapter in the Songbook story will begin with “American Songbook in the Penthouse,” a series of weekend-only performances by performers and composers presented in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse, an intimate yet elegant venue that brings artists closer to the audience in a cabaret-style setting. With a seating capacity of just 225, the Kaplan Penthouse allows acoustic performers such as songwriter/cellist/singer Ben Sollee to be heard the way they intend – near to the audience and without elaborate amplification. The size of the space also allows a performer like Meow Meow to interact with her audience to make them an integral part of her performance, something difficult to do in a larger, more formal venue. Complimentary glasses of wine and bottled water will be served to audience members, who will be seated at cocktail tables. The Kaplan Penthouse was the site for American Songbook shows before the series moved to The Allen Room in 2005, and it shares with The Allen Room stunning city views.

For “American Songbook in The Allen Room” shows, Broadway stars Lea Salonga, Karen Akers, and Kristin Chenoweth will dazzle with music from Broadway as well as standards from both established and newer composers from the world of musical theater. In keeping with American Songbook’s tradition of honoring great composers and lyricists, those being celebrated this season in The Allen Room are John Kander and Fred Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago) and Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, the creators of the ground-breaking musical, Next to Normal. Another songwriter and performer on the schedule is Valerie Simpson, who, with her late husband and lyricist Nickolas Ashford, created era-defining rhythm & blues for Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Ray Charles, and Whitney Houston, as well as for their own stage shows. The legendary Mavis Staples, whose gospel-trained, blues-belting voice is a favorite of millions, will shake The Allen Room rafters later in the season. Over her long career, Staples has often performed songs of a political nature, and hers has been a continuing voice for civil rights. She shares being a “voice of protest” with another Songbook performer, Tom Morello, aka The Nightwatchman. Harlem native Morello is the guitarist of the influential rock band Rage Against the Machine, but his work as The Nightwatchman is as a singer/songwriter with strong political views and ardent activism.

Country music will be well represented in the series by one of its most gifted interpreters, Kathy Mattea. And while his music has elements of country in its sound, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, the pseudonym of singer/songwriter Will Oldham, also will bring rock and folk elements to a performance of his songs. Further into the folk genre is a relatively new group from North Carolina, Lost in the Trees, a septet that performs “chamber folk,” taking many of its cues from chamber music practices of classical music.

The Allen Room series will also feature two popular singer/songwriters: Brooklyn-based Ingrid Michaelson and Norwegian-bred Sondre Lerche. Rising star jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant is in the series, and, in a repeat of her stunning show first presented in American Songbook 2010, opera great Stephanie Blythe performing the songs of Kate Smith.

“American Songbook in the Penthouse,” will embrace adventuresome performers and celebrate composers and lyricists, both newer and veteran. Kerrigan & Lowdermilk, a creative team sparking critical acclaim for their musicals The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown, Henry and Mudge, and others, will perform an evening of their music. The critically-lauded composer Ricky Ian Gordon, known for his vocal music that spans art song, opera, and musical theater, will present Green Sneakers, a theatrical song cycle about love lost.

A rising star in the musical theater world, Lindsay Mendez, will be joined by pianist and composer Marco Paguia. Mendez starred as Rose in the play Dogfight, and Paguia was a finalist for the Cole Porter Fellowship, among other career highlights. They will combine their talents for an evening of jazz.

Carving out a career niche perhaps all his own, singer/songwriter/cellist Ben Sollee will bring his smoky vocals and jazz and folk-flavored songs to the Kaplan, as will Cristin Milioti, whose expressive voice earned her a 2012 Tony nomination for her work in Once. Adding to this mix of music will be “kamikaze cabaret” artist Meow Meow, a diva in every sense of the word.

TICKETS can be purchased online beginning November 13, 2012 at Lincoln Center’s website, via CenterCharge at 212-721-6500, at the Alice Tully Hall, Avery Fisher Hall Box Office, or at the Frederick P. Rose Hall Box Office. Tickets for the Friends of Lincoln Center go on sale November 2, and single tickets go on sale to the public beginning November 13.

Premium packages—including wine, dinner, and the best seats in the house—are available for $250. More information at

Major support provided by Fisher Brothers, in memory of Richard L. Fisher
Amy and Joseph Perella
Additional corporate support is provided by Bank of America and PVH Corp.

Lincoln Center’s American Songbook 2013 Season
January 30 – April 20, 2013

“American Songbook in The Allen Room”
Frederick P. Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th Street

Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 8:30 pm Lea Salonga
A very young Lea Solanga burst onto the theater scene in Miss Saigon in 1971, and captured the Tony, Olivier, Drama Desk, Outer Critics, and Theater World awards in her first Broadway outing. A child star in her native Philippines, Solanga followed her Miss Saigon triumph with subsequent roles in Les Misérables, Flower Drum Song, and as the shimmering soprano voice of Disney princesses Jasmine and Fa Mulan in the movies Aladdin and Mulan, respectively. She has concertized all over the world, and has recorded albums of musical theater shows, pop songs, and movie soundtracks.
Tickets start at $50

Thursday, January 31, 2013, 8:30 pm Valerie Simpson
“Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand),” “I’m Every Woman,” “Solid (As a Rock)” and other era-defining tunes were written by Valerie Simpson and her husband, the late Nickolas Ashford, in a songwriting career that began in 1964 when they wrote Ray Charles’ classic “Let’s Go Get Stoned.” A flurry of hits written for Motown stars Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell as well as Diana Ross & The Supremes followed, then a switch to the Warner Brothers label led them to write for Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Quincy Jones, Luther Vandross, and Whitney Houston among many others. Simultaneously with their songwriting, in the early 1970s Simpson and her husband launched a performing career, letting their passion as a couple ignite their stage shows. With Ashford’s passing in 2011, Simpson continues her solo career, releasing her most recent CD in June 2012.
Tickets start at $35
Sponsored by TopPatch, Inc.

Friday, February 1, 2013, 7:30 and 9:30 pm Karen Akers
The very definition of a nightclub chanteuse – and with cheekbones made to be lit by a pin spot ? Karen Akers’ silky contralto captivated audiences for many seasons in the Algonquin hotel’s late, lamented Oak Room where she interpreted songs by Cole Porter, Jacques Brel, Edith Piaf, Kander & Ebb, and Stephen Sondheim. Also a gifted musical theater and dramatic actress, Akers was in the original Broadway production of Nine (Tony nomination) as well as Grand Hotel, both directed by Tommy Tune. She performs in nightclubs and concert halls around the world and to date has recorded ten albums.
7:30 show tickets start at $35
9:30 show tickets start at $30

Saturday, February 2, 2013, 8:30 pm Cécile McLorin Salvant
Winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition in Washington DC, Salvant dazzled the judges – Patti Austin, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Al Jarreau, and Dianne Reeves among them – with her expressive vocal communication. Jazz singers come from all sorts of backgrounds, and the combination of a French mother, Haitian father, and training in French classical and baroque voice has yielded a master of idiosyncratic style in Cécile McLorin Salvant. Her growing popularity in the US and Europe attests to not just her vocal prowess but her focused way with a lyric.
Tickets start at $30

Wednesday, February 6, 2012, 8:30 pm Ring Them Bells: Rob Fisher Celebrates Kander & Ebb featuring Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley with special guests Chita Rivera and Joel Grey
“All That Jazz,” “Mister Cellophane,” “Wilkommen,” “A Quiet Thing,” “Maybe This Time” and the incomparable “New York, New York” are some of the dozens of songs written by John Kander and Fred Ebb over the course of their creative collaboration. They are also some of the great songs that Broadway stars Marin Mazzie (Kiss Me Kate, Next to Normal) and Jason Danieley (Curtains, Next to Normal) will perform, along with Chita Rivera and Joel Grey, in a review conducted by Rob Fisher. Fisher’s previous three composer celebrations for American Songbook – on Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein, and the Gershwins – were joyous explorations of the work of those composers, presented with a firm understanding of how they fit into American musical life. Artistic Director of the Gershwin centenary (1996-1998), founding music director and conductor of the award-winning Encores! series, Fisher works extensively on Broadway and in concert halls across the country. Kander & Ebb’s indelible songs – with all of their brass, sass and heart ? will pulse under Fisher’s capable hands.
Tickets start at $50

Thursday, February 7, 2013, 8:30 pm Bonnie “Prince” Billy
Bonnie “Prince” Billy is the performance name used, since the late-1990s, by the singer, actor, and songwriter Will Oldham. Known for his tender, sweet tenor, his music has been described as Americana, folk, roots, country, punk, and indie-rock. He has appeared in over 50 releases, and he rarely records with the same group of players twice. He first recorded under various versions of the Palace label and he has changed his name many times before settling on Bonnie “Prince” Billy for its “mellifluous sound” and references to Billy the Kid and Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Tickets start at $35

Saturday, February 9, 2013, 8:30 pm Stephanie Blythe: We’ll Meet Again – The Songs of Kate Smith
The mezzo-soprano's commanding, rich voice has captivated audiences in many of the world's great opera houses. This season she brings her singular voice to the new production of Un Ballo at Maschera as well as Il Trovatore and the Ring cycle at the Metropolitan Opera, and in August she triumphed in Dido and Aeneas with the Mark Morris Dance Group in Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival. Blythe, who made her popular music debut in American Songbook 2011 with this very show, returns to the series to pay personal tribute to the great Kate Smith by singing songs made famous by Smith, a beloved music icon whose stirring voice helped to comfort and galvanize our nation in wartime.
Tickets start at $50

Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 8:30 pm Sondre Lerche
Described by The New York Times as “an alluring and slyly outré singer/songwriter from Norway,” Sondre Lerche counts both Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello as his chief musical influences, with some shadings from Bruce Springsteen evident in his rollicking delivery. After early success in his native country (winning “Best New Artist” at the Norwegian Grammys) Lerche moved to New York in 2005 and quickly built on his reputation for beautifully crafted songs delivered in an outgoing, immediate style. He has recorded eight CDs.
Tickets start at $30