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5 Reasons to see Patti Austin at the the Jacobs Music Center's Copley Symphony Hall

In October of 2016, I attended my first concert as a staff member of the San Diego Symphony—the 2016-17 Season Opener. I thought the high point of the night would be watching Michael Feinstein, a wildly entertaining Sinatra-style crooner who I’d seen once before and was excited to see again. I knew the name “Patti Austin,” but I was unfamiliar with her music and hadn’t given too much of a thought as to what she’d be like. After the concert ended, however, her performance was all I could think about. Since she’s coming back this November to perform with us a second time, I figured now is a perfect time to share with you 5 reasons to see Patti Austin at the San Diego Symphony:   

  1. Her showmanship. That night, Patti took the stage in a sparkly floor-length dress that reflected the stage lights so vibrantly that even if you didn’t want to pay attention to her for some reason, you really had no choice. She was genuinely excited to be on stage at Copley Symphony Hall, performing with our orchestra. Her enthusiasm and energy endeared her to the audience before she sang a single note.
  2. Her voice. She sang so smoothly and powerfully that I had to physically lean back in my seat just to take it all in. She sang beautiful smooth-jazz numbers that transported me back in time (you know she’s good at it - she has two entire albums devoted to Ella Fitzgerald tunes!) and then she sang powerhouse ballads that put the opening note of “And I Will Always Love You” to shame. She sang some catchy upbeat numbers and some emotional numbers and through it all, she made the audience feel everything she was feeling. She was such a genuine delight to watch, I found myself forgetting about the fact that I wasn’t familiar with her music and applauding after every number with enthusiasm that would suggest I’d been following her career for decades. Maybe I’m biased, but I think she sounded especially fantastic accompanied by our orchestra, who followed her lead flawlessly and filled the hall with beautiful music as usual. Everyone was on point that night, but Patti was the biggest standout of them all.
  3. Her career’s longevity. Austin’s career began at the age of four when she made her singing debut at the Apollo Theater and landed a recording contract a year later. If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is. When I was four, I made my stage debut performing a tap dance to a song from The Lion King, but I can assure you that performance did not kick-start a long and illustrious dance career.
  4. Her momentum. The fact that Austin launched her career at such a young age and has not only maintained it, but has kept it on an upward trajectory for 50 years is practically unheard of. Since signing that record deal at the age of five, she’s worked with the likes of Diana Ross and James Brown, won a Grammy®, performed a duet with Michael Jackson, landed spots on the R&B Top 40 and No. 5 on the dance charts and made a total of 21 albums. In short, she’s a woman who knows what she’s doing.
  5. Her hits. If you took a few minutes to look her up on Spotify, you may recognize a few tunes. For instance, you might recognize her hit song “It’s Gonna Be Special,” which was featured on the soundtrack of the movie Two of a Kind, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. You may also recognize her chart topping songs “Reach” and “Rhythm of the Street” and selections from her Grammy®-winning album Avant Gershwin. If you look her up on YouTube, you may find her iconic duet “Baby Come to Me” with James Ingraham and want to listen to it over and over again. You’ll also find some stunning live performances, some beautifully sung Ella Fitzgerald covers and some funky 80s music videos.

Austin will be performing with the San Diego Symphony again on Friday, November 3. When I say this concert comes with my high recommendation, I’m not just saying that because it’s my job to say that. I went into her set last year with zero expectations and ended up having the most fun at a concert than I’ve had in a long time. I’m a 20-something-year-old with no prior knowledge or particular interest in jazz and soul music, but when I left that concert I knew I had just seen one of the greats.

Patti Austin is opening the return of our City Lights Series because we know how well she can put on a show. If you’re a longtime Austin fan, just know that she’s still got it. If you’re new to the genre but looking for a show you won’t soon forget, take a chance and spend your Friday night with Patti. I can assure you, you won’t regret it! 

 Tickets are still available and you can get them right here.


This post was written by Stephanie Zumwalt, Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator for the San Diego Symphony. 

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