SCAPA and Governor’s School for the Arts alum Jacob Yates has teamed up with veteran Broadway actress Jessica Hendy to form J String, a unique voice and cello duo that will make its live premiere with a concert at Newport’s Thompson House on Friday night.
The duo met over the summer, when Hendy was performing in Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati’s production of Next to Normal and Yates was playing cello and keyboard for the show.
“We started collaborating and making music videos together,” Yates said via email, “and those videos got some attention from sites like Broadwayworld.com and Playbill.com, so we started getting booked for gigs.”
The attention grabber was Britney Spears‘… Baby One More Time, and the duo has tackled a mashup of One Direction’s You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful and Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe and their first video, a cover of Lady Gaga’s The Edge of Glory (with a nod to J.S. Bach). That video is posted on Hendy’s YouTube page, on which she writes, “His name is Jacob Yates, and he is brilliant.”
The videos have progressed quickly from a hipster, home-made feel to the latest, a sleek production for a cover of David Guetta’s Titanium (above).
Yates graduated from SCAPA in 2011 and is studying at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. In 2010, Yates organized a successful fundraiser for Haitian earthquake victims, that featured another well-known Lexington cellist, Ben Sollee. Hendy is a graduate of the school and has appeared on Broadway in Cats, Aida and Amour.