Five years ago, Laura Ball started UNED!TED Artists, a nonprofit organization that aims to integrate different arts, cultures and communities through collaborative concerts and events.
She will perform “Just Du-ET” with the Charleston-based, Brazillian jazz artist Duda Lucena at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday for the debut of the organization’s sixth season, and its first series in residence at Woolfe Street Playhouse.
The “Just Du-ET” series continues with three shows scheduled for Dec. 23, Feb. 3 and March 16, which will showcase different pairings of local artists at the downtown Charleston venue at 34 Woolfe St.
Q: What is UNED!TED’s “Just Du-ET” series, and what’s the goal there?
A: “Just Du-ET” was actually one of our favorite audience concerts from our first three seasons at the Library Society. It was also one of our smaller and more intimate performances. We simply expanded on the spirit of that one idea into a concert season. A duet is simply a performance involving two people, two voices or two contrasting elements. … With each concert, we’re showcasing a different duet pairing of artists, or groups of artists.
Q: What can audiences expect from the latest “Du-ET” you’re doing with the local Brazilian jazz artist Duda Lucena on Wednesday?
A: This latest “Du-ET” with Duda gives the audience a new take on what I call All-American music. Duda and I grew up in different worlds — North America, South America — with unique sets of musical influences, yet we’ve found some common musical ground from the classic folk, rock and soul genres to explore together. Sometimes a bossa finds its way into a ballad; sometimes we’ve used that simple and pure Brazilian approach to a melody to make a well-known song more intimate and stirring. Everyone can expect a truly beautiful and evocative night of heartfelt tunes that transport you from the beaches of Charleston to the shores of Rio, with a piano, guitar, two vocalists, and a killer set list.
Q: What has it been like working with Lucena?
A: Every time I work with Lucena, I feel like I am sitting next to a fountain of great genius and humility. He is truly one of the most gifted and knowledgeable artists I have ever worked with in my career — in and out of Charleston.
I pinch myself every time there’s an opportunity to play with him because I cannot believe we’re so lucky to have a resource of South American music of his caliber right in town. His sense of rhythm, melody and tuning is exquisite.
He has this ability to get straight to the heart of the music with just the right touch of syncopation and just a hint of twist and turn without over-ornamenting a melody. Also, he is the most patient teacher. There are many great musicians, but very few great musicians who are also great teachers.
Q: What do you have planned for the rest of the season?
A: Our musical residency runs through March of 2016. We’ll be back at Woolfe for a holiday cabaret (Dec. 23) our annual Beatles/Bach/Beer mashup (Feb. 3) and our season six finale with a night of French songs, Jazz and Americana (in March). Each concert is offered for one night only.
To purchase tickets, visit www.uneditedartists.org.