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Spoleto Festival USA 2015 Comes to an End
Published:
6/10/2015 9:56:24 PM


(l-r) Drummer Conor Rayne, Charleston Chronicle jazz critic Hakim Abdul-Ali singer Kate Davis, local jazz lover Xavier Moye and guitarist Alex Foote pose for a photo after Ms. Davis’ June 4, 2015 concert.
 
By Hakim Abdul-Ali


It began on May 22, 2015, with great expectations as the City of Charleston played annual host to the nationally acclaimed outstanding arts, music, dance and theater extravaganza called Spoleto Festival USA. This high-energy extensive showcase of some of the world's elite talent from the various worlds of entertainment came to a resounding close on Sunday, June 7.
   
"The Chronicle" was on the scene from beginning to end checking out as many of these delightful spectacular displays of entertainment excellence as possible. As a cultural critic, I must say that this year's events and programs, especially those associated with the Wells Fargo sponsored jazz series, were interesting and varied in their presentational contexts.
   
Before the Festival's official closing, I had the opportunity to interview the jazz series' last featured artist, newcomer Kate Davis, on last Thursday, June 4, at the Spoleto Festival USA's headquarters on George Street in scenic downtown Charleston. It was an exuberant experience to have interviewed this earnest young musician.
   
Ms. Davis, 24, appearing in this year's Wells Fargo Jazz Series venue in what would be her first "big time" gig, let me know during our interview that she was evolving into establishing herself in the music industry as a performer who would like to touch on many different aspects of music that she feels she wants to perform. A budding songwriter in her own and a developing singer, along with being a multi- instrumentalist, this native of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania,  expressed that she was about taking her craft to new heights, but she feels grounded in her ability as a singer, something that challenges her.
   
She told me that she wishes to express who and what she is as musician in many ways through her personal and rather distinctive songwriting abilities. This was definitely evident in her show's presentation later in the evening. More about that in just a little while.
   
Though born in Pittsburgh, she divided her early growth years between upstate New York and Portland, Oregon, a place she relates fondly as home and where her musical skills and talents were initially recognized and honed. After graduation from high school in Oregon, she attended the famous Manhattan School of Music where she graduated with a degree in music.
   
From there it was the entrance into the world of musical survival and acceptance, applying her prowess on upright bass, bass guitar and piano in order to enhance being recognized with her developing version of jazz and other musical styles. She's a sincere student of the musical spectrum, forever seeking and trying to find her niche in the rarified air of outstanding and talented newcomers of jazz musicians.


The Kate Davis Concert Review

Playing tunes in her concert's song listings that I felt were more quasi-rock and folk-flavored than what I imagined would be more traditional jazz tinged, Ms. Davis gave the audience  thorough example of where her ample talents were going to take them in the hour long concert. She kept the eagle-eyed crowd on their best listening behaviors as she poignantly serenaded them with slow and mellow beats in seven song set concert.
   
To call her a jazz singer in the traditional sense, at this point in her embryonic career, I believe is a bit unfair as I think she sounds more like a folksy-style, low-keyed rock singer to me, but she does possess a jazz fluidity to her tonal expressions, especially when she plays the upright bass with whatever she sings. Her vocal voice is obviously developing, but her song writing shows probable success, and with more experienced seasoning, it will enthuse future listeners with qualified results. She a star in the making.
   
Overall, Kate Davis, along with fellow her band mates, Alex Foote on guitar and drummer Conor Rayne, who  gave a respectful and supportive background to Ms. Davis' tempos as she sang and played guitar, bass, and solo piano on her songs. The number one highlight for me was at the very end of her show, and that was when she played her YouTube smash version of "All About That Bass," a piece that brought the near capacity audience to its feet with applause and cheerfulness. You should check it out.
   
The lady can definitely play the bass, and that's straight on rap from me. She's very talented, and I expect some big things from her because her potential is unlimited. It's to be noted that Kate Davis hasn't made an initial CD yet. From what I hear though, that's in the works, but she already has an extended EP out simply entitled "Kate Davis Session1" which contains four of her original songs that she's written.
   
In conclusion, Spoleto Festival USA 2015 was an enormous success, and it's Well Fargo Jazz Series for next year has already started its diversified planning schedule for next year according to WFJS's director Michael Grofsorean. If the plans come to fruition, next year's jazz series programs will be stellar, just like this year's were.   

 

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