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Arts & Culture

Weekend In Entertainment: Billie Holiday, Restaurant Week, MLK Parade & More!

Fenix Fotography
The Actor's Theatre of Charlotte
Janeta Jackson performs as Billie Holiday in "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill."

Food, music, and charity are on the agenda and it’s also the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend. Joining Gwendolyn Glenn to discuss these and other arts and culture events around town for this edition of Weekend In Entertainment is Matt Olin, co-founder of Charlotte Is Creative. 

Gwendolyn Glenn: Hi, Matt. 

Matt Olin: Hi ,Gwen.  

Glenn: Let’s kick things off with Billie Holiday the iconic blues/jazz singer Billie Holiday, known as "Lady Day." There’s a one-woman show, "Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill" that starts Thursday starring Janeta Jackson as Billie Holiday. Matt tell us about the show and about Janeta Jackson? 

Matt Olin
Credit Sarafina Wright
Matt Olin, co-founder of Charlotte Is Creative.

Olin: The performance will be on stage at the Actor’s Theatre and the setting is a bar in 1959 in Philadelphia. Billie Holiday is giving one of her last performances, a riveting portrait of the lady and her music mere months before her death. Janeta Jackson, who plays Lady Day -- not to be confused with Janet Jackson -- will be making her Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte debut as the legendary Lady Day. She has show credits like "Sister Act," where she played Deloris Van Cartier, "Beehive: The '60s Musical," "Crowns" and "Shrek: The Musical." She's a really accomplished performer. 

Glenn: Matt, I saw the show some years ago and it is powerful and a compelling 90-minute, intimate portrayal of Lady Day. So what are the dates for the show? 

Olin: The show starts Thursday and runs through Saturday.  

Glenn: Continuing in the jazz vein, there’s a lecture and concert coming up on the music of the legendary saxophonist John Coltrane, of course a North Carolina native. Matt, there’s going to be a free lecture on Friday and a concert featuring Coltrane’s music. Tell us more about these two events?

Olin: Musician Phillip Whack will talk about the life and music of saxophonist John Coltrane at a pre-concert lunch session from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday the 17th at the library main branch in the Francis Auditorium. It’s free and open to the public. You are welcome to bring a brown-bag lunch and enjoy this discussion over your lunch. 

Glenn: That sounds like it’ll be a lot of fun. I’m sure most people know about Coltrane, but just remind us of how great a musician he was and tell us a bit about Phillip Whack, who will be performing Coltrane’s music this weekend?

Olin: John Coltrane led over 50 recording sessions and appeared on albums with other jazz greats such as Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. Coltrane was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, the DownBeat Hall of Fame, he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and a Pulitzer Prize posthumously in 2007 citing his “masterful improvisation, supreme musicianship and iconic centrality to the history of jazz.” He’s a legend. As for Phillip Whack, he is a saxophonist who performs around the world and has shared the stage with everybody from Lenny Kravitz and Branford Marsalis to The Temptations, Aretha Franklin and The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.

Glenn: So the free lecture will be at the Main Library on Friday -- when, where and what times will the concert take place?

Olin: There are two shows Friday and Saturday night. That’s at the Stage Door Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.

Glenn: Let’s move from music to food. Charlotte Restaurant Week, known as the Queen’s Feast, starts this week. 

Olin: Charlotte Restaurant Week is an annual event and for over a week you can try three-course meals at over 140 restaurants, usually $30 or $35 dollars. That's a steal, if you ask me. And it includes places like The Bottle Tree in Belmont, 131 Main, Cajun Queen, the Pump House in Rock Hill, and many, many more restaurants.

Glenn: You mentioned Rock Hill, so it’s not just restaurants in Charlotte?

Olin: Yes, so you’ll find Gaston County restaurants, Fort Mill/Rock Hill, Hickory, Catawba, you name it. You can view the full list of restaurants and the menu each place is offering on charlotterestaurantweek.com. Reservations are recommended. 

Glenn: And it starts when? 

Olin: This Friday to Sunday the 26th. 

Glenn: And Thursday night there’s Tom Hanchett and Katie Oates at Manolo's Bakery. What’s going on there? 

Olin: Monolo’s on Central Avenue is known for being very civic-minded, especially toward Charlotte’s immigrant population. These are two of our favorite Charlotteans – Katie Oates has played at CreativeMornings, and Tom Hanchett is a true double-threat: he’s a brilliant musician and one of Charlotte’s premier historians. This 7 p.m. event combines Tom’s love of music with his passion for delicious, authentic international cuisine in the Queen City. There, you can actually try Mexican pastries -- and all the tips are going to the homeless neighbors 

Glenn: Great cause. This weekend is also Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday weekend and that means the MLK parade uptown and lots of other events. Tell us about some of them.

Olin: Well, the parade is from 10 a.m. to noon uptown, as you said. It's this Saturday. It's going to start at 9th Street and go all the way to Stonewall. What a great opportunity to hit the Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture if you haven't been there before. 

Glenn: Yeah, and they always have a full day of events. They have lectures and movies, you name it. So that would be a great way to end up watching the parade.

Olin: Absolutely.

Glenn: Stevie Wonder actually wrote his song "Happy Birthday" for Dr. King in 1981 when many were lobbying for King's birthday to be a federal holiday. Let's let Stevie Wonder take us out. Thanks for being with us, Matt. 

Olin: Thank you, Gwen. 

Glenn: That's Matt Olin, co-founder of Charlotte Is Creative.