Legendary Female Jazz Singers: From Ella to Esperanza

Examine the lives and legacies of great female jazz singers, including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Abbey Lincoln, Betty Carter, Esperanza Spalding, Cécile McLorin Salvant and Cassandra Wilson.

“Music comes out of her. When she walks down the street, she leaves notes.” — Jimmy Rowles, jazz accompanist, describing Ella Fitzgerald

From Ella Fitzgerald to Esperanza Spalding, explore the powerful music and influence of legendary female jazz singers. Musicologist David Ferris, Ph.D., illuminates the legacy and lives of some of the greatest 20th century jazz vocalists: Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Abbey Lincoln and Betty Carter. He also considers several contemporary jazz singers, including Esperanza Spalding, Cécile McLorin Salvant and Cassandra Wilson. Integrating recordings and videos of performances and interviews, this course offers insights into these vocalists’ musical approaches and their compelling life stories. Learn to listen more deeply to some of the greatest jazz singers of all time. No previous musical experience is required.

Image: Billie Holiday at the Downbeat club in New York City in 1947. (Wikimedia/William P. Gottlieb)


Section Instructor Format Schedule start date
GHUM2050.F18.1 David Ferris On-campus 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Instructor: David Ferris

David Ferris, Ph.D., is an associate professor of music in The Shepherd School of Music, Rice University. He teaches seminars on jazz, classical style, Mozart, Romantic song, Mendelssohn and Schumann, text and music and folklorism in 19th-century music. Dr. Ferris previously taught Jazz and African-American Music and Post-Bop: Jazz’s Golden Age at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. His work has been published by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Routledge Press and has appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological Society, the Journal of Musicology, Music Theory Spectrum and Music and Letters. He holds a doctorate from Brandeis University.

Term: Fall 2018

Start Date: Sept. 19, 2018

End Date: Oct. 31, 2018

Schedule: 7-8:30 p.m.

Length: Six Wednesdays (no class Oct. 10)

Location: Rice campus

Fee: $190

Early Registration: $180 if registering by Sept. 5

Rice Alumni: $171

CEUs: 0.9

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