It's no wonder that Patrice Williamson has been compared to Ella Fitzgerald, because ever since hearing Fitzgerald sing "A Tisket, A Tasket," she's been a lifelong devotee. To celebrate Fitzgerald's enduring legacy as a jazz vocalist, Williamson will perform in an evening that will include many love songs and jazz standards such as "My Funny Valentine," "I Thought about You," and "Take Love Easy." Joining her are celebrated guitarist Jon Wheatley, reflecting shades of Fitzgerald's notable collaborations with Joe Pass, and distinguished Boston musicians Mark Shilansky on piano and Keala Kaumeheiwa on bass. This performance is a continuation of Williamson's brainchild, Celebrating Ella, a concert series leading up to Fitzgerald's 100th birthday on April 25, 2017.
Williamson grew up in Memphis, Tennessee in a home filled with song. Her late father, choir director of their local church's music ministry, introduced her and her sister to both sacred music and the secular styles of greats like Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, and Lena Horne. With her mother's encouragement, Williamson took up the violin and made her musical debut at age four, playing a duet with her sister in front of the St. Stephen's congregation. From then on, she was hooked on music and performing, adding piano and flute to her repertoire by age 11. She enrolled at the University of Tennessee and studied music. Encouraged by faculty jazz pianist Donald Brown, she headed to New England Conservatory to focus on her voice under the guidance of award-winning RCA recording artist Dominique Eade. Since then, Williamson has found her musical home in Boston where's she's a favorite fixture of the live music scene. Her sensitive interpretations and fluent scat style have earned her a coveted Best of Boston accolade and several Boston Music award nominations. Both of her independent recordings, My Shining Hour and Free to Dream, received high praise from critics across the country. She is currently an associate professor in the Voice Department at Berklee College of Music and an applied faculty member at Tufts University.