In jazz, where so much of the artistry rests on virtuosity and tradition, immense talent is sometimes hidden in plain sight. Such is the case of Sullivan Fortner, a New Orleans piano phenom who just recently decided to showcase his rare vocal ability on The Checkout.
Those close to Fortner — like The Checkout's guest co-host, curator, and singer Michael Mwenso — knew Fortner's greatness far trancended his main instrument. The only chance one might have had to hear Fortner sing were late at night, after a jam session, or on Sunday morning at his Brooklyn church.
So we are proud to present the official debut of Sullivan Fortner, the singer. Today he accompanies himself on our C-3 organ for a special studio session that traces the history of the gospel jazz tradition, all the way back to 16th century "negro meters" and "line gospels," sacred work chants that later transmuted into the landmark gospel music of Thomas A. Dorsey and James Cleveland.
Sullivan Fortner, Michael Mwenso and the Shakes, and Vuyo Sotashe come together for a special concert, Sacred Protest Songs From Africa to America, at Le Poisson Rouge on Tuesday, Aug. 15 at 8pm. We will be there to record and capture this world premiere. Tickets are available here.
Host and Producer: Simon Rentner
Co-host and guest curator: Michael Mwenso
Assistant producer: Molly Fichter
Sound Engineer: Corey Goldberg
Subscribe to The Checkout podcast on iTunes and Stitcher.