Harlan man stuns ‘The Voice’ judges

THE VOICE -- "Blind Auditions" -- Pictured: Jordan Smith. (c) NBC photo by Tyler Golden.

Jordan Smith of Harlan sang Tuesday night on The Voice. © NBC photo by Tyler Golden.

If you go onto a singing-competition show on national television seeking affirmation of your talent, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better response than Harlan’s Jordan Smith got Tuesday night on The Voice.

Jordan Smith's NBC portrait. © NBC photo by Trae Patton.

Jordan Smith’s NBC portrait. © NBC photo by Trae Patton.

His rendition of Sia’s Chandelier prompted most of the judges to turn their seats around quickly, and Gwen Stefani’s reaction to Smith’s voice and un-Sia-like appearance was particularly expressive: She could barely stay in her seat, and she ran up to give Smith a hug at the end of the song.

“You do not look like your voice, FYI,” Stefani said to the bespectacled Smith, who appeared in a plaid shirt and a cardigan.

Pharrell said, “and that’s the most super-cool thing about it, all that individuality standing on stage, right now.”

Judge Adam Levine added, “I think you’re the most important person that’s ever been on this show.”

Levine was the last judge to turn around, waiting for Smith to soar a few more notes after the chorus, but Smith ultimately elected to be on the Maroon 5 frontman’s team.

So, just months after FX’s crime drama Justified wrapped up, TV viewers will get a completely different look at Harlan through Smith’s Voice journey.

UPDATE: According to NBC publicity, we will next see Smith in the Battles rounds. Those begin Oct. 12, but NBC cannot say at this time what date Smith will be on.

However it goes, he will always have this moment:

Share
Posted in Music, Television, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments

Notebook: Lexington Philharmonic’s epic season opener

The ensemble of the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra's performance of Gustav Mahler's 'Symphony No. 2, 'Resurrection'" takes their bows at the end of the performance on Sept. 18, 2015.

The ensemble of the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of Gustav Mahler’s ‘Symphony No. 2, ‘Resurrection'” takes their bows at the end of the performance on Sept. 18, 2015.

There is this moment in the middle of the fifth movement of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, ‘Resurrection’ where the strings are swirling, the percussion is crashing, the winds are rising to the high heavens, and you look at the quiet choir and soloists and think, “Oh yeah, this thing is going to get even more epic.”

And it sure did Friday night in the Lexington Philharmonic‘s season opener which brought together the heavily augmented orchestra, a pair of world-class soloists and the combined forces of four college choirs in the greatest ensemble performance I have ever seen on the stage of the University of Kentucky’s Singletary Center for the Arts concert hall.

In recent years, epic masterworks have been the province of the home band, the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, which delivered massive pieces such as Hector Berlioz’s Requiem, Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem and a couple Mahler 2s in outstanding performances. And college orchestras do have advantages when they want to present works such as these, because director John Nardolillo simply has to cast lines into the School of Music’s various instrumental studios for more musicians. It gives more students opportunities to perform. A professional orchestra like the Philharmonic has to stroke checks to all those players, making the accounting more challenging.

But it was well worth the money and effort the orchestra put into this season opener.

One of the things that makes the epic pieces work is they are not massive for massive’s sake. They deploy the forces at hand judiciously, making music, not noise. Maybe no other piece does this as well as the Resurrection symphony which, particularly in its first four movements, sometimes lets you forget what exactly is on hand.

While we do open with ominous rounds of deep C strings we also have playful moments and amazing exercises in subtlety, like the violas’ foreboding, barely audible suspended note toward the end of the first movement. Mahler puts no one in the spotlight, even the vocal soloists, for long in this work. But the players made the most of their moments, from the violins to the winds, flutist Pei-San Chiu reasserting her status as the Philharmonic’s secret weapon (something that will be less secretive come Nov. 13, when she is a featured soloist with the orchestra). Clarinetist Mike Accord shared an exquisite moment blending with mezzo-soprano soloist J’nai Bridges in her fourth movement solo.

Conductor Scott Terrell’s best work of the night may have been the seamless blends he achieved between Bridges, soprano soloist Karen Slack (a Lexington resident we need to hear more from) and the combined choirs of Asbury University, Berea College, Eastern Kentucky University and Transylvania University. This quartet of choirs, combined for just a few rehearsals, nailed the emotion of Mahler’s life-and-death work in a performance that my 16-year-old violinist son succinctly described saying, #choironfleek.

Another highlight was the off-stage horns and percussion, a trademark of this work, who were tack-sharp under the direction of conductor Marcello Cormio, a veteran of some of UK’s monsterworks.

And that is what made this performance sing. It was huge, it was challenging. But throughout the ensemble, they captured the emotion of this cathartic work and delivered it to a who’s who Lexington audience that packed the Singletary Center and included Terrell’s predecessor, Maestro George Zack, and Secretariat owner Penny Chenery.

And after Friday’s performance, people had to wonder the same thing folks asked in 1973, after Big Red crossed the finish line at Churchill Downs: What are you going to do for an encore?

Share
Posted in Classical Music, Lexington Philharmonic, Singletary Center for the Arts | Tagged , , , , , | Comments

Could you be the Michael or Ola in the Thriller Parade?

Albert Ignacio, center, in his fourth time as Michael Jackson performs in the lead group during the 14th annual Thriller Parade marched down Main Street, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014 in Downtown Lexington. © 2014 Herald-Leader photo by Jonathan Palmer.

Albert Ignacio, center, in his fourth time as Michael Jackson performs in the lead group during the 14th annual Thriller Parade marched down Main Street, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014 in Downtown Lexington. © 2014 Herald-Leader photo by Jonathan Palmer.

The Halloween season is closer than you think, and the folks at Mecca are once-again getting ready for the annual Thriller Parade in Downtown Lexington, which will be at 8 p.m. Oct. 25.

At the center of the action are the dancers who portray Michael and Ola in the recreation of Michael Jackson’s ground-breaking 1984 Thriller video. If you think that could be you, get down — in a couple ways — to Mecca, 948 Manchester Street, at 7 p.m. Saturday. This link will tell you all you need to know, but some highlights include knowing the Thriller video dialogue and dance very well, having another Michael Jackson routine up your sleeve, if you’re going for that role, and being a bit of scream queen if you’re going for Ola.

There’s more information at the link above for people who simply want to be part of the show, including rehearsal and performance times and date. Also look for information about being part of the Thriller Showcase prior to the parade and Thriller Parade swag from Cricket Press, which you can order in advance to make sure you don’t miss it, if it sells out (as it often does).

Share
Posted in dance | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Could you be the Michael or Ola in the Thriller Parade?

Stuart Horodner on a new UK Art Museum

Stuart Horodner, now in his second year as director of the University of Kentucky Art Museum, has made numerous changes, including dropping the admission fee to the museum. The University of Kentucky Art Museum has redone its second floor galleries to display more of the museum's permanent collection over time. Herald-Leader photo by Rich Copley| rcopley@herald-leader.com.

Stuart Horodner, now in his second year as director of the University of Kentucky Art Museum, has made numerous changes, including dropping the admission fee to the museum. The University of Kentucky Art Museum has redone its second floor galleries to display more of the museum’s permanent collection over time. Herald-Leader photo by Rich Copley| rcopley@herald-leader.com.

For the past several years, there has been a steady drumbeat that the University of Kentucky Art Museum needs a new building to replace its corner office in the Singletary Center for the Arts.

But that rhythm has ceased since the arrival of Stuart Horodner as the museum’s new director, last summer. He has changed a lot of things, but getting the museum a new home is not one of them, at least for now. When I talked to Horodner on Monday for Friday’s Weekender cover story, he did bring up the new building topic, unprompted, riffing on what he has said before on the subject:

“When I first got here, my goal was to stop talking about needing a new building. I would love a new building. I’ve got all kinds of ideas of what we could do with a new building. But we don’t need a new building until we make this current location so boisterous with energy and constant attendance and constant newness the people say, ‘Oh my god, there’s always something going on over there, always people there, always some programatic vitality.

“If we don’t do that, all the other conversations about buildings are  sort of silly, because you don’t need to think about raising $20 million or whatever it would take to build a new building if you don’t have the energy and the people engaged. No one will ever do it.”

Horodner says that is why he has taken steps such as making museum admission free, redoing the permanent collection displays on the second floor, restructuring the interior of the museum and making programming changes, to increase engagement in the museum, particularly on campus.

Share
Posted in UK, Visual arts | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Stuart Horodner on a new UK Art Museum

Lexington resident Ada Limón on National Book Award longlist

Poet Ada Limon, with her pug "Lily Bean", photographed at the Boone Station State Historical Site, 240 Gentry Rd. in Lexington, Ky., Monday, August 26, 2013. Ada Limon is a nationally known poet who moved to Lexington a while ago. She was a judge for the National Book Awards and will be a featured speaker at the Kentucky Women Writer's Conference in September. Herald-Leader staff photo by Charles Bertram.

Poet Ada Limon, photographed in August 2013 at the Boone Station State Historical Site, is on the 2015 longlist for the National Book Award in poetry. Herald-Leader staff file photo by Charles Bertram.

Poet Ada Limón, who moved from the fast-paced publishing world of New York City to the pastoral landscape of Lexington’s horse country in 2011, is on the longlist for the National Book Award in poetry.

Her Bright Dead Thingsslated to be published Sept. 24 by Milkweed Editions, is one of 10 contenders for the prize including two previous winners: Terrance Hayes for How to be Drawn and Marilyn Hacker for A Stranger’s Mirror: New and Selected Poems, 1994-2014.

The publisher describes Bright Dead Things as, “A book of bravado and introspection, of 21st century feminist swagger and harrowing terror and loss, this fourth collection considers how we build our identities out of place and human contact—tracing in intimate detail the various ways the speaker’s sense of self both shifts and perseveres as she moves from New York City to rural Kentucky, loses a dear parent, ages past the capriciousness of youth, and falls in love.”

In a 2013 Herald-Leader profile by Candace Chaney, Limón said, “My life here is a quieter life than the one I had in New York City. I cherish the silence, the natural beauty, the time to write and focus fully on my own creative work.”

By pure coincidence, Limón is slated to speak at 7 p.m. next Wednesday, Sept. 23, at Christ Church Cathedral, 166 Market Street, as part of the church’s Kentucky Writers Series. Admission is free.

Finalists will be announced Oct. 14 and winners will be announced at a New York ceremony Nov. 18.

Lexington’s last splash in the National Book Awards was in 2011, when University of Kentucky English professor Nikky Finney won the poetry prize for her Head Off & SplitIn 2013, Finney moved back to her native South Carolina to take a post at the University of South Carolina and be closer to her family.

Share
Posted in books, Central Kentucky Arts News | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Lexington resident Ada Limón on National Book Award longlist

Madonna coming to Louisville

Madonna performs at the opening night of her Rebel Heart Tour at the Bell Center on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in Montreal, Quebec. © Photo by Rich Fury for Invision/AP.

Madonna performs at the opening night of her Rebel Heart Tour at the Bell Center on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in Montreal, Quebec. © Photo by Rich Fury for Invision/AP.

Madonna has added dates to her just-launched Rebel Heart tour, and they include a stop in Louisville Jan. 16. The 57-year-old pop icon’s KFC Yum! Center show will be her first Louisville stop, according to a Live Nation press release, and she has never made a Lexington stop either.

While she is still best known for her 1980s and ’90s hits such as Like a Virgin and Vogue, Madge’s recent tours have been smash successes, the 2008-2009 Sticky & Sweet tour being the highest grossing tour ever for a solo artist. Her spring release, Rebel Heart, garnered strong reviews, and she is continually cited as an influence by current chart-toppers such as Lady Gaga.

Tickets for the Louisville stop go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday through LiveNation, Ticketmaster, all Ticketmaster outlets or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Prices range from $54.75 to $387.05, including fees.

Share
Posted in Louisville, Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on Madonna coming to Louisville

Band members not happy ’80s hit ‘Eye of the Tiger’ played at Kim Davis rally

From left, Joe Davis, Mat Staver, Kim Davis and Mike Huckabee appeared a rally outside the Carter County Detention Center in Grayson, Ky., on Sept. 8, 2015. Herald-Leader staff photo by Pablo Alcala.

From left, Joe Davis, Mat Staver, Kim Davis and Mike Huckabee appeared at a rally Tuesday outside the Carter County jail in Grayson. Herald-Leader staff photo by Pablo Alcala.

At 48, Kim Davis is the right age to have been infused with Rocky III theme Eye of the Tiger as a go-to psych-up anthem. But members of Survivor, the band that wrote and recorded the 1982 hit, are none too happy that the song played Tuesday as the embattled Rowan County Clerk was released from jail, where she had been confined on a contempt of court charge.

“I was very surprised and dismayed at the misuse of the song I co-wrote with Frankie Sullivan for Rocky III,” Survivor co-founder and song co-writer Jim Peterik said in a statement to Billboard magazine. “The song has motivated thousands through the years to reach beyond their limits. Its use for the release of Kim Davis does not support my views or my politics. I have contacted my publishers to make sure this usage is stopped immediately.”

Survivor frontman Sullivan took to Facebook to say, “NO! We did not grant Kim Davis any rights to use (The Eye Of The Tiger). I would not grant her the rights to use Charmin!”

TMZ reported the band is considering legal action.

Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses since a United States Supreme Court ruling in June legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. She said issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples conflicted with her beliefs as an Apostolic Christian.  She was jailed on Thursday after refusing to comply with Federal Judge David Bunning’s order to issue marriage licenses or allow her staff to issue them.

The situation has garnered nationwide attention, and Tuesday, Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz both went to Grayson, where Davis was being held, to rally for her support. Huckabee was on stage with Davis when she was released, and Survivor’s iconic anthem played.

It is far from the first time bands have gotten in disputes with political figures over their music being played at rallies. Recently Neil Young and Donald Trump have been in a dispute over Republican presidential candidate Trump’s use of Young’s Rockin’ in the Free World at campaign events.

Click here for more on the Kim Davis situation from Kentucky.com.

Share
Posted in Music | Tagged , , , | Comments

Details on the surprise Hunter Hayes show

Acoustic Jam was presented by WBUL-FM 98.1 on Dec. 2, 2014, at the Lexington Opera House in Lexington, Ky., and it raised $120,000 for Kentucky Children's Hospital. Photo by Rich Copley | Herald-Leader staff.

Hunter Hayes performs at Acoustic Jam, presented by WBUL-FM 98.1 on Dec. 2, 2014, at the Lexington Opera House in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Rich Copley | Herald-Leader staff.

So, you want to be one of the few, the proud who get to go to the Hunter Hayes show in Lexington tonight for CMT’s Instant Jam? Here’s the scoop:

The show is at Cosmic Charlie’s (it was going to be at an outdoor venue, but that was changed due to rain in the forecast for this afternoon and evening). Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and close at 7. Wristbands will be given away at Sorority Circle — 331 Columbia Ave.; the common courtyard area that Kappa Delta, Delta Sigma Phi, Alpha Gamma Delta, Kappa Alpha Pheta and some other sororities use — beginning at noon. The event publicist advises there are only a few hundred wrist bands, and you must have one to get in.

Hayes, who opens for Lady Antebellum Thursday night at Rupp Arena along with Sam Hunt, announced the show on his Twitter account Tuesday and tweeted details this morning at 11.

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Details on the surprise Hunter Hayes show

Hunter Hayes playing surprise Lexington show Wednesday

Hunter Hayes and band performed at Acoustic Jam. Acoustic Jam was presented by WBUL-FM 98.1 on Dec. 2, 2014, at the Lexington Opera House in Lexington, Ky., and it raised $120,000 for Kentucky Children's Hospital. Photo by Rich Copley | Herald-Leader staff.

Hunter Hayes and band performed at Acoustic Jam. Acoustic Jam was presented by WBUL-FM 98.1 on Dec. 2, 2014, at the Lexington Opera House in Lexington, Ky., and it raised $120,000 for Kentucky Children’s Hospital. Photo by Rich Copley | Herald-Leader staff.

Country heartthrob Hunter Hayes will be performing a concert for CMT’s Instant Jam series in Lexington, Wednesday night. Hayes, who will open Thursday night’s Lady Antebellum concert at Rupp Arena, tweeted the news Tuesday morning and says he will release the when-and-where information at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Instant Jam is a series featuring pop-up concerts by country stars such as Darius Rucker and Florida Georgia Line. Sunday, Hayes tweeted, “Just checked out ‘s surprise show thing, absolutely brilliant. Kinda got me thinking…”

Guess he thought fast.

The last time Hayes was in Lexington, he gave one of the strongest performances at the WBUL’s all-star Acoustic Jam concert at the Lexington Opera House.

Share
Posted in Country music, Music, Rupp Arena | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Hunter Hayes playing surprise Lexington show Wednesday

Kevin Hart coming to Rupp Arena

Host Kevin Hart speaks at the Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber at Sony Pictures Studios on Saturday, March 14, 2015, in Culver City, Calif. © Photo by Chris Pizzello for Invision/AP.

Host Kevin Hart speaks at the Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber at Sony Pictures Studios on Saturday, March 14, 2015, in Culver City, Calif. © Photo by Chris Pizzello for Invision/AP.

Comedian Kevin Hart‘s What Now? tour, reportedly the biggest comedy tour in history, will make a stop at Rupp Arena Oct. 9. Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.

Hart’s career has skyrocketed the past several years thanks to his extremely successful Let Me Explain tour and roles in movies such as Get Hard (2015), Think Like a Man (2012) and About Last Night (2014). Hosting the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards in 2012 was a huge breakthrough for the 39-year-old comedian, and he has been a ubiquitous pop culture presence since, including a hosting gig on Saturday Night Live, last season.

Tickets for Hart’s show will be $51.50 to $127.50 and available at the Lexington Center Ticket Office and all Ticketmaster locations.

Share
Posted in comedy, Rupp Arena | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Kevin Hart coming to Rupp Arena