Celebrating 40 Seasons of Spoleto Festival USA: Festival Females

Spoleto Festival USA 2016 poster by Jonathan Green

Springtime in Charleston is truly magical. As the days start to grow longer, the sweet smell of Confederate Jasmine fills the air. Porch sitting with friends & family becomes an evening priority again, and the town comes alive with all of the amazing outdoor events and festivals. In a few short days, the streets of Charleston will be teeming with patrons eagerly anticipating the 40th season of Spoleto Festival USA. Internationally recognized as America’s premier performing arts festival, Spoleto will bring a wealth of performances in opera, theater, and dance as well as chamber, symphonic, coral and jazz music. Charleston’s historic churches, theaters, and outdoor spaces will be the stage for renowned artists along with emerging performers.

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Among the performers this season, there are several strong, notable females taking part in the festival. Alyson Cambridge, who plays the role of Bess in Porgy and Bess, is a compelling American soprano with over ten years of success singing on the world’s leading opera and concert stages. As if this achievement wasn’t enough, she also volunteers for charities and causes, is a fitness enthusiast, and a multi-brand ambassadress. Brandi Carlile is genre-defying, singer/songwriter whose most recent of 6 albums, The Firewatcher’s Daughter, earned a Grammy nomination. Her musical talents and vast vocal range enable her to play a variety of genres, from stadium rock to country and soul. Her magnificent voice encompasses the full spectrum, which she employs to communicate emotionally, romantically, and spiritually, as The New York Times reported last year.

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Pictured above: Cambridge & Carlile

Singer, composer, theatrical performer, and teacher René Marie makes her 4th appearance at Spoleto Festival USA. A Festival favorite, René Marie is known for her vocal vibrancy and self-possessed boldness, making her one of the most compelling voices performing today. As an artist, her music explores the spectrum of human emotion and the resiliency of the human spirit through a voice of experience. Socially engaged visual artist Carrie Mae Weems is directing Grace Notes: Reflections for Now, a provocative performance of music, song, text, spoken word, and video projection that explores our historical moment. This seminal performance, originally conceived as a gift to President Obama, who sang a rendition of “Amazing Grace” during his eulogy for Emanuel AME Church victim Reverend Clementa Pinckney, this immersive experience asks: what is the role of grace in the pursuit of democracy? Her work over the last 25 years has investigated family relationships, gender roles, the histories of racism, sexism and class as well as various political systems. For the full list of events and shows, check out Spoleto’s calendar here.

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Pictured above: René Marie and Weems

Whether you love the improvisational, distinctive tones of jazz music, the classical, harmonious sounds of the orchestra, or the drama and stagecraft of the theater, Spoleto has something for everyone. With 17 days of amazing events, you can hit the town with your besties for a girls’ night out AND have a date night with your special someone. There’s a reason they say 40 is Fabulous!

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