Curtis Stigers, the voice behind the Sons of Anarchy theme song, performs at Zoellner Arts Center tonight at 7:00 PM.
Following a two-month European tour
“Rock ‘n’ roll and jazz share so many of the same artistic bloodlines that it’s remarkable the two don’t fuse more often into the kind of inspired marriage of visceral clout and intellectual savvy conjured by the singer, songwriter and saxophonist Curtis Stigers.” – The New York Times
Tickets are $35/25 and available here.
In conjunction with the concert, there will be a free pre-show lobby performance at 6pm with Doug Hawk, the Lehigh Valley’s own funk/jazz/R&B artist fills the role of vocalist, keyboardist and principal composer in his myriad of groups. He presents a unique style, which can be described as historically soulful yet progressively hip.
Given his string of hit singles, millions of records sold and a 23-year recording career that has touched every continent and nearly every genre, one might expect Curtis Stigers to be very busy. The energetic singer/songwriter/saxophonist regularly barnstorms concert halls, festivals and clubs everywhere from Moscow to Manhattan, accompanied one night by his quartet, another by big band or orchestra. He has released new work nearly every year since he started recording, frequently collaborating with his musical heroes. Along the way, this musician who began his career playing standards in a Boise hotel lobby while moonlighting as drummer in a punk rock band has redefined the constitution of contemporary jazz.
Stigers’ repertoire is not so much eclectic as it is a reflection of his appreciation for the fundaments of tone and craft, for quality. (He credits his mentor, the late soul jazz pianist Gene Harris, for his first lessons in the art.) Though much has been made of Stigers’ perceived transformation from pop to jazz artist, in retrospect the progression of his work seems both organic and practical. “Pop used to be jazz. Jazz has always been about reinvention,” Stigers notes.
Throughout, Stigers makes it all look easy. “Hooray For Love [his latest CD] is the embodiment of what happens when everything works,” raves Critical Jazz. “Nothing short of amazing.”
Perhaps because he has penned so many notable songs himself, as well as writing with the likes of Carole King and Barry Mann, Stigers has come to recognize the small, perfect things that are a great melody and lyric, and how to capture them on paper and on tape. But it is his rich singing voice — singular, balletic, at turns mournful and playful — that has landed him on records with the likes of Al Green and Shawn Colvin, in studios with venerated producers like Larry Klein, Danny Kortchmar, and Glen Ballard, and onstage with a plethora of legends, including pop and rock greats Eric Clapton, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Rod Stewart, and The Allman Brothers, and jazz giants Nancy Wilson, Al Jarreau, Gerry Mulligan, Randy and Michael Brecker, Chuck Mangione, Toots Thielmans, Wynton Marsalis, Diana Krall, and many more. The voice, of course, is the thing: hearing Stigers’ confident, nuanced delivery is akin to seeing a celebrated actor lose himself in a role.
That talent was recognized early on by music business impresario Clive Davis, who signed Stigers to a record deal after seeing him in a New York dive. A debut album sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide on the strength of self-penned hit singles like “I Wonder Why,” “You’re All That Matters to Me,” and “Never Saw a Miracle.” A year later, Stigers contributed a cover version of Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding” to The Bodyguard Soundtrack, which sold over 40 million copies worldwide. Multiple appearances on The Tonight Show, David Letterman, The Today Show, and countless international TV shows, put Stigers directly in the spotlight of popular culture.
More accolades followed. Stigers’ 2003 release You Inspire Me was The Sunday Times (UK) Jazz Album of the Year; in 2007 BBC Radio 2 awarded him Jazz Artist of the Year. In 2010 and 2013, Deutsche Phono-Akademie named Stigers International Male Jazz Singer of the Year at the Jazz Echo Awards; he received an Emmy nomination for “This Life,” a song he co-wrote and sang for the popular television show Sons of Anarchy. Stigers also recently recorded a duet of Cole Porter’s classic “Well Did You Evah” with Family Guy creator/actor/producer Seth MacFarlane and the John Wilson Orchestra, and he made a cameo appearance in MacFarlane’s movie Ted.
But Stigers seems to be the rare artist who has not allowed his success to influence his artistry, or his sense of self. Born in Hollywood, raised in Boise, and transplanted to Manhattan, he now resides, between gigs, in his hometown back in Idaho, a place where he says he can can raise his daughter and “live a real life.” Here, between blue mountains and green fields, Stigers is able to write and discover the songs he wants to sing.
Here’s a bit of Curtis… come swoon with us at Zoellner tonight.