-Courtesy of Bryan Buttler Media Relations, LLC
Acclaimed opera and Broadway performer Zachary James will debut CALL OUT, simultaneous visual and audio albums of works composed by women, to be released December, 2020. James is joined on the album by pianist, Charity Wicks, cellist, Jeffrey Zeigler, theorboist, Brandon Acker, steel guitarist, Kevin Skrla, guitarist, Frederick Poholek and vocalist, Megan Nielson.
In the tradition of visual albums like The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine and A Hard Day’s Night, Daft Punk’s Interstella 5555, Prince’s Purple Rain, Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Beyonce’s recent hit, Black Is King, James’ album is comprised of music videos conceived by the singer as visual vehicles for the music. The musical program originally planned as a live solo recital for Carnegie Hall for November 2020 has been reimagined, adjusting to the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic and the mass closure of live performance venues.
“This medium pushes classical vocal music more into the pop world, inviting the audience to experience the genre in a new way,” added James.
The album will feature primarily new compositions including works by Kamala Sankaram (Houston Grand Opera, Opera Ithaca, LA Opera, Opera Memphis); Bonnie Montgomery (Arkansas Country Music Awards’ 2020 Entertainer of the Year); Rachel J. Peters (Fort Worth Opera, Sarasota Opera, Atlanta Opera, Utah Opera) with lyrics by Robert Maddock (Recipient of the American Theatre Wing’s Jonathan Larson Grant); Rene Orth (Opera Philadelphia, Washington National Opera, Festival d’Aix en Provence); Juliana Hall (Buxton Festival, Rhonefestival für Liedkunst, Schumannfest Düsseldorf, Tanglewood) and librettist Caitlin Vincent (Washington National Opera, Oxford Lieder Festival, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble); Paola Prestini (San Diego Opera, Minnesota Opera, New York Philharmonic) and Pulitzer Prize winning librettist Royce Vavrek (Los Angeles Philharmonic, Fort Worth Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis); Missy Mazzoli (Opera Philadelphia, LA Opera, Washington National Opera); Persis Vehar (Royal Festival Hall, Graz Music Festival, Carnegie Hall) and LGBTQ scholar, author and poet George Klawitter and Kristin Hevner (BBC, Opera Ithaca, Teatro Città della Pieve, Metropolis Opera Project); baroque composer Barbara Strozzi and Florence Price, the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer and to have her work played by a major orchestra.
Zachary James has appeared with The Metropolitan Opera (Akhnaten, Wozzeck), Teatro Real (the world premiere of Philip Glass’s The Perfect American), Minnesota Opera (the world premiere of Edward Tulane), Opera Philadelphia (the world premiere of Breaking The Waves, The Love For Three Oranges), English National Opera, Opera Queensland, Los Angeles Opera, Arizona Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Des Moines Metro Opera, Virginia Opera, Union Avenue Opera, Opera Roanoke, Shreveport Opera, Opera Ithaca, Sun Valley Opera, Central City Opera, Ash Lawn Opera, The Prototype Festival, The New York Philharmonic, NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo and The Philadelphia Orchestra. James created the role of Lurch in the Original Broadway Cast of The Addams Family, played Hassinger in the Lincoln Center Theater Revival of South Pacific, and made his Broadway debut in the play, Coram Boy. Off-Broadway credits include Pasquale in The Most Happy Fella and Jo-Jo in Irma La Douce both with Encores. He has appeared on the sitcoms, 30 Rock and Murphy Brown. A frequent interpreter of new music, James premiered operas by Philip Glass, Missy Mazzoli, Kristin Hevner, Paola Prestini, Dana Wilson and Andy Teirstein and serves as an Ambassador to Opera America. James was named the Most Innovative Opera Singer of 2019 by Classical Post, Breakout Artist of the Year by Verismo Magazine and one of the top 30 most influential LGBTQIA artists by OperaWire.
Pianist and conductor Charity Wicks has worked extensively in both the classical and commercial music worlds notably with American Opera Projects, The Prototype Festival, Opera Santa Barbara, on the National Tour of Billy Elliot, and in the current Broadway production of West Side Story as well as the Broadway runs of Tootsie, Frozen, The Great Comet, Spring Awakening, Girl From The North Country, Wicked and Nice Work If You Can Get It. James and Wicks first collaborated on the world premiere of Andy Teirstein’s opera A Blessing On The Moon at Vancouver’s Chutzpah Festival and at NYC’s Le Poisson Rouge.
James and Wicks are joined by Baroque specialist Brandon J. Acker (Leipzig Baroque Orchestra, Joffrey Ballet, The Chicago Philharmonic, The Newberry Consort), cellist Jeffrey Zeigler (recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize, the Polar Music Prize, the President’s Merit Award from the Grammy Awards National Academy of Recorded Arts, the Chamber Music America National Service Award and The Asia Society’s Cultural Achievement Award), soprano Megan Nielson (San Luis Potosí Festival, Miami Music Festival, Opera Ithaca, Symphony of the Mountains), steel guitarist Kevin Skrla (Wolfe Island Recording Co., The Reeves Brothers, The Broken Spokes) and James’ father, jazz and blues guitarist, Frederick Poholek. James’ voice teacher and mentor of 18 years, Feldenkrais practitioner, Carol McAmis, is collaborating on the album with the team.
Audiences can expect the album’s digital release on YouTube, Apple Music, Spotify, and Pandora this December 2020.
To learn more about Zachary James, read our feature interview in the 2019 Fall issue of RowHome Magazine here.