Segerstrom Center for the Arts presents jazz vocalist Veronica Swift for two shows on Saturday, November 20, 2021 at 7:00 and 9:00 pm in Samueli Theater as part of its Jazz series this season. Swift makes her Center debut with these performances.
With a repertoire running the gamut from swing to bebop to the Great American Songbook, Veronica Swift is a young but fully fledged star on the international jazz scene. Boasting a clear and lilting tone and radiant stage presence, she is also a master of rigorous vocal techniques like vocalese and scat. In the Wall Street Journal’s words: “[Swift] might be the best scat singer since Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O’Day, Sarah Vaughan and Mel Tormé.”
Having first gained widespread attention in high-profile collaborations with the likes of Wynton Marsalis and Chris Botti, she has developed a devoted following among audiences. On stage, Veronica will be performing selections from her 2021 album, This Bitter Earth, along with additional jazz standards, rock classics, and more.
As Swift remarked recently, “This show at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts is not only a comeback after a year-long hiatus of no gigs, but it is a rebirth…. The songs I’ve picked for this show encompass some of This Bitter Earth’s message, but also we have included new songs that mix classical with rock and roll and funk as well as jazz. I now know, my purpose as an artist is to break down these genre barriers and fully immerse the audience in what to me is just simply: music.”
Accompanying Swift are Mathis Picard, Piano; Alex Heffron, Guitar; Philip Norris, Bass; and Dylan Elise, Drums.
About Veronica Swift
Still relatively early in her professional career, Swift has already developed an impressive repertoire. Raised in Charlottesville, Virginia by her parents – pianist Hod O’Brien and singer Stephanie Nakasian – she recorded her first album, Veronica’s House of Jazz, when she was only nine years old. In addition to performing with her parents, Swift sang and played trumpet with Dave Adams’ The Young Razzcals Jazz Project, which afforded her the opportunity to perform at the Telluride Jazz Festival.
After releasing her sophomore album, It’s Great to Be Alive, when she was only 11 years old, Swift continued performing at major venues such as Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. After high school, she attended the University of Miami, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 2016.
Before college graduation, Swift competed in the 2015 Thelonious Monk International Vocal Competition, in which she placed second. Two years later, she moved to New York City to further her career and has since performed and/or toured with a host of jazz luminaries, including trumpeters Wynton Marsalis and Chris Botti, and pianists Benny Green, Michael Feinstein, and Emmet Cohen.
Veronica Swift flips the script on This Bitter Earth, the captivating follow-up to her 2019 Mack Avenue Records debut, Confessions. Whereas Confessions played out like pages from her personal diary, on the new album, the 27-year-old singer and master song interpreter looks outward while addressing social ills that plague the world today.
This Bitter Earth takes on the song-cycle characteristics of such classic LPs as Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love, and Mary J. Blige’s My Life. For her album, Swift tackles sexism [“How Lovely to Be a Woman”], domestic abuse [“He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)”], racism/xenophobia [“You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”] and the dangers of fake news [“The Sports Page”].
Accompanied by a team of kindred spirts that includes pianist Emmet Cohen, guitarist Armand Hirsch and flutist Aaron Johnson, bassist Yasushi Nakamura, and drummer Bryan Carter, Swift curates material that covers multiple genres, including jazz, American musicals, vintage R&B and contemporary rock.
“I’ve been waiting to do this album for years,” Swift says before explaining that she usually conceives her albums far in advance. She recorded much of the material in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic forced the world into a near total standstill. But the time allowed her to live with songs at different parts of her life. Eventually, she recognized the connective tissue between them. The big challenge, however, was crafting a cohesive narrative.
Swift delves into a dramatic yet sardonic makeover of “How Lovely to Be a Woman,” a Charles Strouse and Lee Adams tune from the 1960 musical, Bye Bye Birdie. “As I’m coming into the world, having more of a feeling of who I am and being more confident in that, I realize now how this song had a lot more ambiguity and cynicism involved,” Swift says. “I tried to make an arrangement that maintained the childlike feel I had while listening to it but still insert some of that sarcasm in it. The song also allows me to present more of my humorous side.”
Now with This Bitter Earth, her second Mack Avenue Records album, Swift’s ascendance as a 21st century jazz torchbearer continues.
Single tickets for Veronica Swift at Segerstrom Center for the Arts start at $59 and are now available online at SCFTA.org, at the Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa or by calling (714) 556-2787. For inquiries about group ticket discounts for 10 or more, call the Group Services office at (714) 755-0236.
Audience Advisory: Our updated COVID-19 policy requires ticket holders to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 to attend all indoor performances and events at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. “Fully vaccinated” means your performance is at least 14 days after your final vaccine dose. To enter the theatre, please bring proof of vaccination, either your physical vaccination card, a picture of your vaccination card, or a digital vaccination record. Most California residents may request a digital vaccination record at myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov
Those who are under age 12 and anyone without proof of being fully vaccinated must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours (3 days) prior to entering the theatre.
Masks are required at all times for all patrons and visitors regardless of vaccination status in all indoor spaces at Segerstrom Center.
Performance ticket holders who do not comply with these policies will not be admitted.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts is an acclaimed arts institution as well as a beautiful multi-disciplinary cultural campus. It is committed to supporting artistic excellence, offering unsurpassed experiences and to engaging the entire community in new and exciting ways through the unique power of live performance and a diverse array of inspiring arts-based education and community engagement programs.
Previously called the Orange County Performing Arts Center, Segerstrom Center is Orange County’s largest non-profit arts organization. In addition to its six performance venues, Segerstrom Center is also home to the American Ballet Theatre William J. Gillespie School.
The Center presents a broad range of programming for audiences of all ages, including international ballet and dance, national tours of top Broadway shows, jazz and cabaret, contemporary artists, classical music performed by renowned chamber orchestras and ensembles, family-friendly programming, free performances open to the public from outdoor movie screenings to dancing on the plaza and many other special events.
Segerstrom Center is a leader among the nation’s performing arts centers for providing education programs designed to inspire young people through the arts. The Center’s programs reach hundreds of thousands of students each year in five Southern California counties. Community engagement programs developed through the Center for Dance and Innovation and Center Without Boundaries also connect the Center more comprehensively with Orange County’s many diverse communities. The CDI supports flagship artistic programming and a wide range of projects that celebrate innovation, nurture creativity and engage audiences of the future. It is home to the ABT Gillespie School and the School of Dance and Music for Children with Disabilities. The Center Without Boundaries develops partnerships with non-cultural organizations to help them in their own efforts to respond to the ever-changing needs of the community.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts is also proud to serve as the artistic home to three of the region’s major performing arts organizations: Pacific Symphony, Philharmonic Society of Orange County and Pacific Chorale, that contribute greatly to the artistic life of the region with annual seasons performed at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
In addition to Segerstrom Center for the Arts as a presenting and producing institution, it also identifies the beautiful 14-acre campus that embraces the Center’s own facilities as well as two independently acclaimed organizations: Tony Award®-winning South Coast Repertory and a site designated as the future home of the Orange County Museum of Art.