(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- A legendary voice of love, a forefather of Funk, the High Priestess of R&B, and the king and queen of the banjo—these are just a few of the highly anticipated musical acts in the 2022-23 season at South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC).
New Jersey Stage picks include The James Hunter Six; John Pizzarelli & Catherine Russell performing songs of Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday; Kathleen Edwards; Josh Ritter; and Martin Sexton. Plus you can't go wrong with Grammy winners like Judy Collins, Peabo Bryson, George Porter Jr., Béla Fleck, Paula Cole.
“We’re thrilled to say SOPAC is SO Back!” says Beth Fylstra, SOPAC’s CFO and Interim COO. “This season will mark our first full, in-person season since the 2018-2019 Season. Alongside our excitement for these captivating artists is our profound resilience as an organization.”
SOPAC persevered through two and a half years of closures due to Covid-19 and Hurricane Ida remediation before fully reopening the Jennifer and Tony Leitner Performance Hall last spring. The venue has a new stage and orchestra pit, freshly painted walls and modern carpeting throughout the building, including The Herb + Milly Iris Gallery.
“We, quite literally, weathered the storm,” added Fylstra. “This season will be the rainbow we’ve been waiting for. We hope you’ll join us as we return to providing high-quality arts experiences.”
Full Season Lineup
Peabo Bryson - Saturday, September 10 at 7:00pm & 9:30pm. Dubbed the King of Balladeers, Peabo Bryson is a two-time Grammy-winning vocalist known for his hit song, "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love" with Roberta Flack. This legendary voice of love offers a timeless mix of Pop, Soul and R&B. Tickets: $59-$79.
George Porter Jr. & Runnin’ Pardners - Thursday, September 15 at 7:30pm. A forefather of Funk, George Porter Jr. is best known as a member of The Meters, the New Orleans-based Grammy-winning R&B group he formed alongside Art "Poppa Funk" Neville, Leo Nocentelli and Joseph Zigaboo Modeliste.Tickets: $35-$49.
The James Hunter Six - Friday, September 23 at 8:00pm. British soulman James Hunter and his gritty, longstanding backing band bring you a sublime evening of no-nonsense Blues. Given their virtuosity, they have shared the stage with acts as diverse as Allen Toussaint, Sharon Jones and Van Morrison. Tickets: $36-$56.
Billie & Blue Eyes presented by John Pizzarelli & Catherine Russell: The Songs of Frank Sinatra & Billie Holiday - Saturday, September 24 at 8:00pm. John Pizzarelli and Catherine Russell are a dynamic duo who will transport audiences to the glory days of Jazz with masterful ease, capturing Sinatra’s cool swagger and Holiday’s effortless grace. Tickets: $48-$68.
Delfeayo Marsalis Quintet - Friday, September 30 at 8:00pm. Acclaimed trombonist, composer and producer Delfeayo Marsalis is known for his “technical excellence, inventive mind and frequent touches of humor” (Los Angeles Times). A New Orleans native, he is the brother of renowned trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. Tickets: $35-$45.
Bettye LaVette & Raul Midón - Friday, October 7 at 8:00pm. Soul singer-songwriter Bettye LaVette has been called the High Priestess of R&B. Her "pure Blues growl" has earned this Grammy-nominated performer comparisons to Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner. Blind since birth, Raul Midón lives in a world of sound. His tropical groove, silky voice and electric guitar are his signature. Tickets: $42-$59.
Ain't No Mountain High Enough! Valerie Simpson & Friends Sing Ashford & Simpson - Friday, November 11 at 8:00pm. Valerie Simpson has spent a lifetime writing chart-topping anthems with her late husband Nick Ashford as the entity known as Ashford & Simpson. The duo penned timeless hits such as, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand” and “I’m Every Woman" for Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, Whitney Houston and others before embarking on a performing career of their own. Tickets: $58-$88.
Russell Thompkins Jr. & The New Stylistics - Friday, January 20 at 8:00pm. Russell Thompkins Jr. & The New Stylistics are bringing back falsetto! After a storied more than 40-year career, this Soul group continues to perform their hit R&B ballads, including “You Are Everything” and the Grammy-nominated “You Make Me Feel Brand New.” Tickets: $65-$85.
Lucky Chops: New Day, New Tour - Saturday, January 28 at 8:00pm. Big, brassy and unapologetically bold. Born in the multicultural melting pot of New York City, the six-piece band pays homage to the New Orleans brass band tradition while incorporating eclectic Rock, Funk, Jazz, Ska, Gospel and EDM. The group's irresistible groove is led by co-founder Josh Holcomb’s soulful trombone, Daro Behroozi’s soaring sax and Joshua Gawel’s powerful trumpet. Tickets: $26-$35.
David Broza & Trio Havana - Saturday, September 17 at 8:00pm. Israeli superstar David Broza is recognized for his dynamic guitar performances and humanitarian efforts. His signature sound is influenced by Spanish Flamenco, American Folk, Rock and poetry. Tickets: $30-$48.
Kathleen Edwards - Thursday, September 22 at 7:30pm. After a musical hiatus and period of profound self-reflection, singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards triumphantly returns with her cloud-grazing voice, skilled strumming and Folk/Country music that confronts life's challenges yet finds the beauty in it all. Tickets: $28-$38.
Chris Smither & Tim O’Brien with Jan Fabricius - Saturday, October 8 at 8:00pm. A master of acoustic Folk/Blues, Chris Smither creates a singular guitar sound – a beat-driven finger-picking, layered over his rhythmic, tapping feet (always mic’d in performance). A lifelong devotee of Bluegrass, Tim O'Brien is skilled on guitar, mandolin, fiddle and banjo. He often performs with his wife, vocalist Jan Fabricius. Tickets: $35-$45.
Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn - Wednesday, October 26 at 7:30pm. Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, “the king and queen of the banjo” (Paste magazine), have a musical partnership like no other. Béla is a fifteen-time Grammy winner who has taken the instrument across multiple genres. Abigail is a singer-songwriter and clawhammer banjo player. Tickets: $49-$84.
Darlingside - Wednesday, November 9 at 7:30pm. Darlingside has long been praised for their mesmerizing harmonies and wistful songwriting, described by NPR as “exquisitely-arranged, literary-minded, baroque Folk-Pop,” and compared to Crosby, Stills and Nash; Simon & Garfunkel; and The Byrds. Tickets: $28-$38.
Paula Cole and Sophie B. Hawkins - Thursday, November 10 at 7:30pm. Carried by her radiant voice, Grammy winner Paula Cole has a musical catalog defined by honest lyrics that covers Blues, Jazz, Folk, Pop, Gospel and Americana. Multi-instrumentalist Sophie B. Hawkins has been tugging at heartstrings for decades with her captivating storytelling. Both are known for their indelible 90s hits—Cole's "I Don't Want to Wait" and Hawkins' "As I Lay Me Down." Tickets: $38-$49.
An Evening with Josh Ritter - Thursday, November 17 at 7:30pm. With an expressive voice, keen wit and evocative way with words, Folk-Rock artist Josh Ritter has been described as “harking back to Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and maybe a little Mark Knopfler" (The New York Times) and named one of the "100 Greatest Living Songwriters" by Paste magazine. Tickets: $39-$49.
Martin Sexton - Saturday, December 3 at 8:00pm. Martin Sexton's spirited songs run the American musical gamut, incorporating Soul, Country and Blues. The guitarist has been praised for “his unpretentious heartiness” (The New York Times) and his "soul-marinated voice" (Rolling Stone). Tickets: $38-$48
Since 2006, the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) has been serving as a premier performing arts center in the region. SOPAC offers innovative artistic and cultural experiences for diverse audiences in an intimate, inviting environment. The arts center hosts a variety of live performances, community events and education programs for all ages. SOPAC is home for Seton Hall University Arts Council’s performances, including the Classical Concert Series, Jazz ‘N the Hall performances and Seton Hall University Theatre productions. SOPAC programs are made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. The South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.