April 27, 2006 Bess Bonnier, Jazz Artist, in Concert May 18
Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Jane Caulton (202-707-0521
Bess Bonnier, acclaimed Detroit jazz pianist and composer, will appear in concert at the Library of Congress at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 18, in the Coolidge Auditorium on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.
"Bess Bonnier at the Coolidge," which is free and open to the public, will feature selections from the artist’s career and will include a question-and-answer session.
The event is sponsored by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress; the Friends of Libraries for Blind and Physically Handicapped Individuals in North America; the National Federation of the Blind; and the World Blind Union, North America/Caribbean Region.
Bonnier, who is blind, is a popular artist in her hometown of Detroit and has been wowing audiences since 1958, when she released her first album, “Theme for the Tall One.” Now out of print, the release is considered a collector’s item. She has produced several albums since that time, including the highly acclaimed “Suite William,” a 15-movement piece based on the works of Shakespeare, including “As You Like It,” “Love’s Labor’s Lost” and “Twelfth Night.”
"We first discovered Ms. Bonnier in 1991, when she was inducted into the Friends of Libraries for Blind and Physically Handicapped Individuals in North America,” said Frank Kurt Cylke, director of NLS. "Her music is a national treasure, and it is fitting that she be presented in the Coolidge Auditorium, where many other great musicians have performed. We are looking forward to sharing the evening with her."
The singer-pianist has performed at several Montreux Detroit Jazz Festivals and was a featured pianist with Barry Harris, Sir Roland Hanna and Tommy Flanagan for the Detroit Piano Summit in New York. She also appeared at the 1982 Kool Jazz Festival. She continues to appear in concert and is featured in artist-in-residence programs.
Other recordings by Bonnier, who is known for her bebop style, include “Love Notes” (Noteworks Records, 1997), “Bess Bonnier and Other Jazz Birds” (Noteworks Records, 1985), “Duet to Quartet” (Noteworks Records, 1982) and “The 26th Floor” (MBS Records, 1974). In 1994, she collaborated with Paul Keller and vibist Jack Brokensha to release the holiday classic CD “Xmazz” (AEM, 1994).
Bonnier received the Governor’s Arts Award from the state of Michigan in 1990 and the Arts Foundation of Michigan Award for music in 1986.
"Bess Bonnier at the Coolidge" is the second musical presentation sponsored by NLS. Last year’s performance was by Enrico Lisi, a blind concert pianist from Milan, Italy, in his American debut. The concerts highlight NLS’s Music Section, which loans braille and large-print music scores and texts and instructional cassette recordings to eligible users, and they celebrate the agency’s partnership with other organizations that serve the needs and interests of the blind and physically handicapped community.