In an age of music where performers come and go and commercial success is sought above all else, jazz vocalist Carmen Lundy has managed to craft a longstanding, highly acclaimed career that has lasted for three decades.
The Miami-born singer with an international following will return to the Magic City on Saturday, Nov. 14 for a concert at Christ the King Lutheran Church, a part
of the church’s annual fundraiser, Music InsideOUT. A highlight of Lundy’s return home is “To be able to come back to Miami and show everybody that you really can do [well,]” Lundy said during a telephone interview with the South Florida Times from her home in Los Angeles.
Her appearance at Saturday’s concert is the result of musical connections developed during Lundy’s high school years and fostered throughout her career.
Patrick Matthews, director of music at Christ the King, first met Lundy when she was a senior at Miami Killian High School. In an emailed statement, Matthews described his first encounter with the incredibly talented singer:
“I met her while visiting high schools to audition soloists for a concert to be presented combining all the high school choirs in the county. Carmen sang for me, and the luscious contralto sound belied her youth. She was musically superb, with a rich sonorous tone and a sophisticated presence. It was one of those experiences a voice teacher and chorus teacher lives to experience.”
Fast forward a few decades to 2008 and Matthews’ second encounter with the renowned vocalist blows him away.
“I was most impressed by her vocal technique which presents an even voice in all levels of a very broad range. Most jazz singers are superior in one octave or another, not usually bottom to top. Carmen is a vocal artist and a jazz singer,” Matthews raved.
Featuring Lundy, 55, in the Christ the King show is a full-circle delight that thrills Matthews and Lundy. She has been compared favorably to Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan.
In addition to helping out folk who helped her, the University of Miami graduate said, “It’s just giving back to the community, which I’m always interested in doing.”
Miamians are in for quite a musical treat. Her critically acclaimed eleventh CD of self-penned tunes, Solamente, was released in the summer to glowing reviews.
Mike Joyce of The Washington Post said in a review of Lundy's performance at the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center, “Vocalist Carmen Lundy, in terrific voice, followed with a delightful preview of her forthcoming CD, Solamente.”
Additionally, Lundy has written a song just for her home town, which she will perform on Saturday.
With family members still residing in Miami, Lundy manages to make it home about every three years for “quite the family reunion,” she said.
“Most of my siblings and aunts and uncles are Miami based. My grandparents owned a supermarket that pretty much defined the community for ‘50s,’ 60s and into the late ‘70s,” Lundy recalled. “I’m a proud native Miamian.”
A renaissance woman in every sense, Lundy is also an accomplished painter whose work has been exhibited in New York at The Jazz Gallery (Soho), The Jazz Bakery and the Madrid Theater in Los Angeles. In the perfect fusion of art forms, examples of her paintings may be found in the booklets accompanying each of her recordings.
“I’ve done some artwork that reflects my childhood. One of the paintings is actually called Grandmother’s Groceries,” she explained about one of the pieces she plans to bring home with her.
When not touring or recording or acting in off Broadway musicals, Lundy teaches Master classes in Australia, Denmark, Japan, Switzerland, New York, Northern California and Los Angeles. She participates in Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead Program at The Kennedy Center and at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz as a guest artist and clinician.
Her fondness and respect for Monk are huge.
“Right now I’m reading Thelonious Monk. I go to his recordings as I’m reading about his life. He’s at the top of the list. He was a great contributor to jazz as we know it,” she said of the late jazz master who as a teen won the Amateur Night at the Apollo so many times that he was eventually barred from entering.
When asked to explain her own rich life, Lundy, without skipping a beat said, “When you come from a family that’s village and you are encouraged through your school years to pursue your dreams. I’m very fortunate in many ways.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: An Evening with Carmen Lundy
WHERE: Christ the King Lutheran Church, 11295 SW 57 Ave, Miami
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 14 at 8 p.m.
COST: General admission $25, Pre-reserved premium concert seats and post-concert reception with Carmen Lundy $50, Purchase tickets at www.ctkmiami.org