Jazz Fest


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Dolette McDonald, world-famous pop and rock backing vocalist, finds harmony in Savannah.

One of America’s most revered rock background singers, Dolette McDonald has performed with such enormous and diverse artists from alternative pop with the Talking Heads and Peter Gabriel, mainstream rock with Sting, to singing in Spanish with El Divo de Juarez, Juan Gabriel — and will be performing with Savannah Blues sensation at the 38th Annual Savannah Jazz Festival on Thursday, September 26 in Forsyth Park. A resident of Richmond Hill for five years now, she talked about all she loves about Savannah and being behind the spotlight.

 

You’ve recently made the Savannah region your home for what you call your Act III moving from Naples, and before that, New York City. What drew you here?

Both my parents are from the South. My BFF and her husband moved to Pooler about five years ago, and my wife and I would visit often and really enjoyed Savannah every time we came. We decided that we wanted to move and were looking in the Naples area, but it had no music scene, which we always enjoyed in Savannah. We live in Richmond Hill, which is just close enough to Savannah for us to go and enjoy and then come home to live in a very natural environment where we can kayak, bike ride and walk for miles right in our own community.  

 

We know you don’t like labels as you have performed in so many genres with many different artists, what is the common thread of creativity that drives you to explore so many styles?

For me, the common thread of creativity is the challenge of being open to finding that perfect place vocally to fit into whatever genre that I’m singing in. I really have to let go of ego and just let the vocal spirit flow — which is the most challenging and rewarding at the same time when it’s a success.

 

The film about legendary back-up singers, “20 Feet From Stardom,” chronicles the life of singers who make acts like the Rolling Stones and others great successes. Although you weren’t in the film, like so many others, tell us about the reality of being a powerful back-up vocalist for huge stars?

The reality of being a professional background singer is that it could be as wonderful or horrible as you make it. The ability to observe what’s going on around you and fit in to the situation because it’s really not about you, it’s about the artist that you’re supporting, so ego goes out of the window and team playing is in. Sometimes you might have to change your sound to fit the situation. For example, when I went to work for The Police, the first thing I learned was that I couldn’t use vibrato because Sting didn’t like it — as he had none (at that time). That was one of the most difficult lessons I had to learn because I actually didn’t know how to sing without it. I had headaches after each show for about a month because I had to train myself to sing that way. With that said, I learned a skill that would help me in the future.   

 

What are your favorite musical events in the Savannah area?

My very first musical event in Savannah was sitting in with the Peter Fish Band at the Savannah Jazz Festival. That’s when I realized how much Savannah had to offer and we believe it was truly the “Aha” moment that gave us the inspiration to move here. Once we moved, we became members of the Coastal Jazz Association — and we try to go to as many of their concerts as we can. These shows are fabulous with the best of the best musicians performing.

    

Do you have any local places you like to eat and shop?

I absolutely love historic Savannah. I always start on River Street and make the rounds. I enjoy City Market and each square to Lincoln Street. I’ve enjoyed Telfair Museum and actually found a church that we like right across the street.  On Broughton, I love 24e Design, Kayak Kafé and Avalon Exchange. My favorite restaurants are Alligator Soul, The Olde Pink House, Sorry Charlie’s, 17Hundred90, Local 11ten, Rancho Alegre Cuban and so many other places that I have on my list to check out. As you can see, I love to eat.

 

You will be performing at the Annual Savannah Jazz Festival with Savannah Blues man Eric Culberson. What excites you about this new collaboration in this setting?

I’m excited about being inspired by a true Blues man. Just speaking to Eric over the phone has given me a certain comfort that we´re going to have an absolutely amazing set. Because I´ve studied the history of the songs that I´ll be singing and the women who sang them, discussing them with someone who is knowledgeable, makes for an easy and fun collaboration. I feel very blessed that he’s the person that I´ll have this experience with.  

For details on the Savannah Jazz Festival visit savannahjazzfest.com.

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Events Calendar

  • SS Savannah (1819-2019)

    May 23, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Ships of the Sea Museum

    2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the SS Savannah's groundbreaking trans-Atlantic crossing.  In recognition of this monumental achievement,...

  • Savannah Philharmonic Chorus Auditions

    Sep 07, 2019
    10:00 AM - 2:00 PM @ Collegiate Church of St. Paul the Apostle

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  • Savannah Philharmonic Chorus Auditions

    Sep 07, 2019
    10:00 AM - 2:00 PM @ Collegiate Church of St. Paul the Apostle

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  • “Summon the Sea! Contemporary Artists and Moby Dick” Exhibition

    Oct 11, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

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  • 200 Club Boston Butt Sale

    Oct 18, 2019
    11:30 AM - 5:30 PM @ Chatham County Sheriff’s Office

    The Two Hundred Club is now taking pre-orders for their annual Boston Butts fundraiser sale. Pick-up for the sale will be from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30...

  • "Portrait of the Artist" Exhibition at Telfair Museums

    Aug 03, 2019
    12:00 PM - 12:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    This exhibition brings together several photographic portraits of recognizable creative individuals from Telfair’s permanent collection....

  • Halloween Hike

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    5:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Oatland Island Wildlife Center

    Join us on Friday and Saturday October 18th and 19th for our annual Halloween Hike from 5p.m-8p.m!  This is a fun, friendly, not so scary...

  • Savannah Children's Theatre Casino Night Gala and Auction

    Oct 18, 2019
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    Put on your poker face & get ready for a night of casino games, auctions & FUN! You'll get to play blackjack, place bids on silent...

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  • Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    The Tybee Arts Association presents a new and shocking version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale of depravity, lust, love and horror in...

  • 17 South Haunted Forest

    Oct 04, 2019
    7:00 PM - 11:00 PM @ 17 South

    Do you dare to enter the 17 South Haunted Forest after the sun goes down and night begins to fall? Shadows take on a life of their own in this...

  • Friday Concert Series

    May 03, 2019
    7:00 PM - 12:00 AM @ Historic Courthouse, Downtown Blairsville on the S

    Come enjoy live music every Friday Night from the first Friday of May through the end of October. The Historic Union County Court House will host...

  • Jack the Ripper Ballet

    Oct 18, 2019
    7:30 PM - 8:30 PM @ Savannah Cultural Arts Center

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  • Masquerade in the Mansion

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    8:00 PM - 11:00 PM @ Telfair Academy

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  • Midnight Masquerade in the Mansion

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  • The Best DAM Happy Hour

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  • Savannah Moose Lodge Haunted Forest

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    Official 2019 Haunted Forest Dates: October 4th, 5th, 11th, 12th, 18th, 19th, 25th, 26th, 31st, Noveber 1st & 2nd.


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Scenes of the South

Anne Pappas Grand Opening

Anne Pappas Interiors celebrated the Grand Opening of their new full-service design studio and showroom at 101 W. Liberty St. in the heart of Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District, on Thursday, Oct. 10. “This inspiring space will allow our talented team of designers to provide exceptional creative services to clientele who appreciate the art of design,” said Pappas. A member of Coastal Living and Southern Living’s exclusive Designer Network, Pappas offers a fresh, inspired approach to interior design, incorporating a variety of textures and design elements inspired by nature, travel and global style. Pappas and her team welcomed guests with light hors d’oeuvres and cocktails at the event.

Savannah Film Alliance Honors Gala

Glitz and glamour were galore at the Savannah Film Alliance Honors Gala celebrating the Savannah Entertainment Industry as Charles (Bo) Bowen and his team orchestrated the event of the year. The night was unforgettable for all, but even more so for many hard-working and deserving individuals who were recognized for their contributions to the local film and television industry

Bitty and Beau's at Kendra Scott

Kendra Scott gives back with Bitty & Beau’s Saturday, Sept. 28. Kendra Scott gave 20% the proceeds of their sales from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to Bitty & Beau’s Coffee. Bitty & Beau’s, which aims to provide jobs and change the way people see those with special needs and disabilities, provided muffins and coffee.

Brews for a Cause September at Mansion on Forsyth

South magazine in collaboration with Southern Eagle hosted Brews for a Cause at Casimir’s Lounge at the Mansion on Forsyth Park on Thursday, Sept. 26 in a successful effort to raise money and awareness for CURE Childhood Cancer.

Savannah Hospice Gala

Hospice Savannah celebrated 40 years of the “Art of Living” at the Landings Plantation Ballroom on Thursday, Sept. 25.

Latin Dance Party Featuring Gino Castillo & The Cuban Cowboys

The 38th Annual Savannah Jazz Festival hosted a Latin Dance Party, which featured Gino Castillo & the Cuban Cowboys on Thursday, Sept. 25 at the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum. Castillo - the Afro-Cuban jazz singer and percussionist – led the Charleston-based Cuban Cowboys as they brought patrons to their feet, dancing the night away to his funky–jazz, high-energy tunes.

Grand Opening Studio 60 | Body Brite

Studio60BodyBrite owner and girl boss Bobbie Ciaccio unveiled Savannah’s newest salon to the public by hosting a grand opening, “Pink Party,” on Friday, Sept. 13.

The Laughter After: George Montero's Visual Art Show

Savannah's art world gathered at the Cork House, Thursday to experience the award winning SCAD graphic design professor, Jorge Montero's opening exhibition of paintings, drawings, prints and more!

Buy Local's Big Barn Business Bash

Brews for a Cause at Husk, August 22, was truly an unforgettable night, featuring live music by Thomas Claxton and some fantastic craft beer by Southern Eagle — along with the top-notch cuisine of Chris Hathcock. A variety of incredible auction items benefited the Royce Learning Center and the Chatham Academy, including a pearl necklace from International Diamond and several rounds on the Bacon Park Golf Course!

Ruth's Chris National Taste Maker's Veuve Clicquot Wine Dinner

Ruth's Chris held their Veuve Clicquot Tastemaker Dinner on Friday, August 23, pairing their signature steaks with renowned Veuve champagne — which was founded in 1772 and is one of the largest champagne houses in the world. The Tastemaker Dinners are held at Ruth's Chris locations across the country, featuring a five-course meal inspired by the French heritage of Veuve Clicquot, including dishes such as filet mignon and lobster agnolotti.