Due to overwhelming demand, a fourth show has been added to the series of performances by Maxwell, who will perform with the National Symphony Orchestra from Sept. 18-21 at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall.
This rare set of performances marks the first time the sensitive soul singer has performed with a live orchestra, and will include members of his longtime band in new arrangements of his iconic songs that continue to inspire since his debut album in 1996.
“Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite,” released in 1996, yielded his first hits “Til the Cops Come Knockin'” and “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder).” A third single, “Sumthin’ Sumthin’,” firmly affixed the artist in the pantheon of neo-soul singers, a genre that also includes Erykah Badu, D’Angelo and other artists who emerged around that time with a sound that combined old-school R&B sensibilities with updated beats and instrumentation.
The multi-Grammy Award winner has transfixed music lovers with a style that is both upbeat and sensual for more than two decades with songs such as “Pretty Wings” and “Lake by the Ocean.” Maxwell will release the final installment of his “blacksummers’NIGHT” trilogy later this year.
Born Gerald Maxwell Rivera on May 23, 1973, to a Haitian mother and Puerto Rican father in New York City’s Brooklyn borough, he first began composing music at age 17. As a fan of what was referred to as “jheri curl soul,” the trademark sound of many early 1980s R&B acts such as the S.O.S. Band, Maxwell began to teach himself to play a variety of instruments. His first was a low-cost Casio keyboard given to him by a friend.
The series of concerts will surely be memorable additions to the popular Renée Fleming VOICES program, and indicative of the new direction of the National Symphony Orchestra, which has had a number of performances fronted by pop music icons such as Jennifer Hudson.
Voices in Motion, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts’ show choir, will open the concerts with a jazz set, shining a spotlight on the D.C. arts high school’s students.
For more information and tickets, go to kennedycenter.org.