Jazz artist to deliver annual Kendall lecture and concert

Accomplished pianist and organist Trudy Pitts will discuss her life as a female African-American jazz artist when she delivers the annual Edith C. and Raymond L. Kendall Lecture April 1 at 3 p.m. in Room 105 of the Olin Arts Center.

As the second part of the 1998 music event, the annual Kendall Concert features Pitts, accompanied by William Carney on drums and bassist Lee Smith April 1 at 8 p.m. in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall.

In conjunction with the Kendall Lecture and Concert, Mary Alexander, cousin of the jazz great John Coltrane, will give an informal talk, Memories of John Coltrane, about her life growing up with him April 2 at 9:30 a.m. in Room 104 of the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall. The public is invited to attend all events free of charge.

A composer, arranger, teacher and vocalist, the Philadelphia-based Pitts is equally accomplished in both classical and jazz repertoires. Named “A Living Legend” for lifetime achievement by International Women in Jazz in 1996, Pitts has performed with some of the most celebrated jazz musicians in the world, including John Coltrane, Clark Terry, Lionel Hampton, Jimmy Heath, Donald Byrd, Ben Webster, Buddy Tate and Rashan Roland Kirk. Pitts collaborates regularly with drummer William Carney, better known as “Mr. C.”

In 1997, Pitts performed at the Kennedy Center in the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival and was featured in a special Mother’s Day solo piano concert with Marian McPartland at Temple University’s Rock Hall. Pitts toured throughout the U.S. with the national company of the Tony Award-winning show “Raisin,” drawing acclaim for her organ and piano performances.

A veteran of appearances throughout the world, Pitts also has performed on the major stages of her hometown Philadelphia, including stints at the Academy of Music, Mann Music Center, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Afro American Historical and Cultural Museum.

Most recently, Pitts released Me, Myself and I (1994), a solo piano CD on Scorp-Leo Ltd. Other Pitts recordings include Trudy Pitts & Mr.C: A Bucketful of Soul, Introducing the Fabulous Trudy Pitts, These Blues of Mine and The Excitement of Trudy Pitts: Live at Club Barron, all on the Prestige label, and Freedom Child, recorded in Bermuda on the Edmar label.

In 1995, Pitts received a Meet the Composer commissioning grant for an original sacred music jazz suite entitled “A Joyful Noise”, which premiered in 1996 at the historic Mother Bethel Church in Philadelphia. The project also received support from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Mid Atlantic Arts Consortium.

Encouraged by her mother to pursue a career as a concert pianist, Pitts trained on the undergraduate and graduate levels at the Julliard School of Music, Temple University, Connecticut College and the Philadelphia Musical Academy, where she received a bachelor’s degree in music.

Following five years of teaching music in the Philadelphia public schools, Pitts has since conducted workshops and master classes in community and university settings throughout the United States and Canada. Currently, she is a faculty member at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and Philadelphia Community College.

These programs represent the sixth annual Kendall music event, made possible by the Edith C. and the Raymond L. Kendall ’19 Endowment Fund and the Bates College Concert Series. Admission is free and open to the public. The Kendall Fund was established by Edith C. Kendall and Raymond L. Kendall, retired professor of education and psychology at Bates. It annually sponsors a campus residency by a visiting lecturer “of high achievement . . . who can communicate well with undergraduates, thus leading them to a deeper understanding of music or the study of music.”

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