Leslie Odom, Jr., Cynthia Erivo and More to Headline Women's Association of NJPAC Spotlight Gala

By: Sep. 08, 2016
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Tony Award winners Leslie Odom, Jr. (Hamilton) and Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple), and Grammy Award-nominated singer and songwriter Kenny Lattimore will bring their powerful voices and dynamic stage presence to NJPAC's 21st Annual Spotlight Gala of the Women's Association of NJPAC on Saturday, October 1.

As music director, Grammy Award winner and bassist Christian McBride will lead his big band. A limited number of performance-only tickets at $50 are available by calling 1-888-GO-NJPAC (466-5722), online at njpac.org or at the NJPAC Box Office at One Center Street in downtown Newark.

The 90-minute performance in Prudential Hall includes a 20-minute Gala awards ceremony and special performance by students from NJPAC's Arts Education program. The Spotlight Gala is the official curtain-raiser for NJPAC's 2016-2017 season.

Multifaceted performer Leslie Odom, Jr. gained widespread critical acclaim for his portrayal as Aaron Burr in the Broadway blockbuster Hamilton, a role that earned him the Tony for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. He also is a Grammy winner as a principal soloist on Hamilton's original cast recording. Odom made his Broadway debut at the age of 17 in Rent and starred in Leap of Faith, also on Broadway, for which he won the 2012 Astaire Award for Outstanding Male Dancer on Broadway and was nominated for a Drama League Award. On the small screen, he is best known for his portrayal of Sam Strickland in the NBC musical series Smash. He released his first solo album in June, the acclaimed self-titled Leslie Odom, Jr., which includes show tunes and jazz classics, from Jerome Kern's "Look for the Silver Lining" to Jule Styne's "The Party's Over."

Cynthia Erivo is a multiple award-winning actress who took Broadway by storm with her performance as Celie in John Doyle's new revival of The Color Purple. For performance, Erivo was awarded the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. She first played the role in 2013 at London's Menier Chocolate Factory, earning rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. In addition to her stage career, Erivo is an accomplished songwriter, having written "Fly Before You Fall" for the 2014 film Beyond the Lights.

Grammy-nominated singer Kenny Lattimore has been making listeners swoon for more than 20 years. Hailed by The New York Times as a "modern soul man," Lattimore is renowned for his tender vocals and honest lyrics, and for such hits "What Must I Do," "Love Me Back," "Never Too Busy" and "For You." He is the recipient of Soul Train and Stellar awards nominations and the NAACP Image Award for Best New Artist, and his vocals have graced projects by a diverse array of artists, including Kanye West, Musiq Soulchild and Nancy Wilson.

Five-time Grammy-winning bassist Christian McBride is Jazz Advisor for NJPAC. Recently named Artistic Director for Newport Jazz Festival, he has played with the likes of Milt Jackson, Roy Haynes, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny and has performed or arranged for Isaac Hayes, Chaka Khan, Sting and the legendary JAmes Brown. McBride also has led his own ensembles: The Christian McBride Band, A Christian McBride Situation and Inside Straight. The Philadelphia native is an acclaimed leader, arranger, conductor and educator. His latest release is Christian McBride Trio: Live at the Village Vanguard.

Since its inception in 1994, the Women's Association of NJPAC has raised more than $45 million in support of general operations and arts education programs at NJPAC. The WA's Spotlight Gala is the Arts Center's largest annual benefit. The WA is a self-supporting, volunteer organization composed of more than 2,000 diverse members from across New Jersey and the New York metro area who are actively engaged in regional and national business endeavors, politics, and cultural and philanthropic causes. As NJPAC ambassadors, WA members seek to increase awareness and educate the public about NJPAC, and provide financial support to programs and educational activities through their annual Spring Luncheon, Spotlight Gala in the fall, and other strategic endeavors and programming.

For full evening tickets to the 2016 Spotlight Gala, call Gail P. Stone at (973) 353-7043 or email womenassociation@njpac.org.

New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, New Jersey, is among the largest performing arts centers in the United States and is the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey - where great performances and events enhance and transform lives every day. NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the state's and the world's best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city. Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts. NJPAC has attracted more than 10 million visitors (including over 1.5 million children) since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents. NJPAC is a proud partner of Newark Celebration 350.

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