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Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Songs We Love is a celebration of the history of American jazz — and its future. Sanford Performing Arts Center joins in that celebration on Saturday, April 1, when Jazz at Lincoln Center takes the stage at 7 p.m. Their stop in Sanford is part of a 47-city tour, from Los Angeles and Atlanta to Orono and Sanford.

For over three decades, Jazz at Lincoln Center has been a leading advocate for jazz, culture, and arts education globally. Under the direction of Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center has brought the art form of jazz from the heart of New York City to over 446 cities in more than 40 countries. Songs We Love was first presented as the 2016 Season Opener at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. With this expanded 2023 touring initiative, Jazz at Lincoln Center provides a wide range of concert presenters an opportunity to offer excellent jazz programming while introducing to a broader audience the musicians who will reinterpret and reimagine the sound of jazz for years to come.

Songs We Love was first presented as the 2016 Season Opener at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Songs We Love is a journey through the first 50 years of jazz song. Under the musical direction of Riley Mulherkar, three guest vocalists will join an all-star band made up of New York’s rising stars. Combining their distinct talents, the group will sing their way through four decades of music, beginning with the early blues and jazz of the 1920s and ending in the early 1950s. Iconic singers to be explored include Ma Rainey, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland.

In Songs We Love, a superb ensemble of up-and-coming players, schooled and tested on the stages of Jazz at Lincoln Center and concert halls around the world, will revisit some of the great songs from the first decades of jazz. Under the musical direction of trumpeter Riley Mulherkar and featuring vocalists Vuyo Sotashe, Brianna Thomas, and Shenel Johns, the ensemble will bring to life songs and styles that
define the sound of jazz singing from the 1920s to the early 1950s. It’s a journey of blues, swing, and surprise, from the sound of Ma Rainey and the extraordinary storytelling of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald to the easy swing of Frank Sinatra and the dramatic flair of Judy Garland.

The repertoire includes gems such as the traditional blues “See See Rider,” first recorded in 1924 by Ma Rainey, and Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr.’s “God Bless the Child,” a classic ballad first recorded in 1941. The song was sparked by the line “God bless the child that’s got his own,” which Holiday’s mother used in an argument with her daughter. It was celebrated in 2001 as one of the Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. The program also includes jewels by masters of songcraft such as George Gershwin (“I Loves You Porgy”), Cole Porter
(“So in Love”), and Harold Arlen (“Over the Rainbow,” sung by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz in 1939). These songs have remained an inspiration and a reference for generations of jazz and pop performers and songwriters.

Tickets range in price from $46 to $50 for adults, with discounts for students, seniors and subscribers. Call the box office at (207) 206-1126, or visit in person Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m.-noon. Online ticketing is available 24/7 at

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