Bank One SuperPops concert features award-winning African-American baritone in a tribute to Paul Robeson and Nat “King” Cole
As one of the great American voices on the scene today, Jubilant Sykes’ distinctive baritone has rung out loud and clear in venues as diverse as the Metropolitan Opera, European music festivals, and concert halls across the country.
Jubilant, Musical Director Neal Gittleman, and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra will combine their substantial talents to portray the songs and styles of two of the great African American men of song: Paul Robeson and Nat King Cole.
The son of a former slave and a teacher, Paul Robeson’s career did not follow a typical path. Consider this: he was the third African-American student ever admitted to Rutgers University, a twelve-letter athlete named twice to the All American Football team, a Phi Beta Kappa scholar, valedictorian of his graduating class at Rutgers, a graduate of Columbia University law school, and husband of the first African-American woman to head a pathology laboratory.
And, oh yes…he also sang. In 25 languages.
Robeson created the starring role in Eugene O’Neill’s All God’s Chillun Got Wings in 1924; starred in O’Neill’s play, Emperor Jones; changed the lines to Old Man River in Jerome Kern’s Showboat; and appeared in 11 films, including Proud Valley, Jericho, and Body and Soul.
Robeson spent his life promoting understanding between cultures, performing Negro spirituals and folk songs from other cultures, and singing for peace. And equality.
Born the son of a Baptist preacher and a music teacher as Nathaniel Adams Coles, Nat King Cole got his stage name from a Los Angeles club owner in the mid-thirties. When he was only four, Cole made his first public performance as a pianist at the Regal Theater in Chicago. Cole first played jazz piano with the Rogues of Rhythm, his brother Eddie’s jazz band. Cole formed the King Cole Trio in Los Angeles and began a 22-year recording career that included such hits as Straighten Up and Fly Right, It’s Only a Paper Moon, The Christmas Song, Nature Boy, Mona Lisa, Too Young, Pretend, Route 66, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, and Rambling Rose.
Both Robeson and Cole provide repertoire well-suited to Jubilant Sykes’ jazzy, sweet, and soulful approach.