With an eclectic charm and repertoire spanning from jazz to classical to pop, Pink Martini – the self-described “little orchestra” – featuring singer China Forbes returns to Grass Valley thanks to The Center for the Arts on Saturday, December 9, at 8 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Auditorium. Their unique multilingual music traces its many influences through a genre-defying collection of cultures, times, and styles. The Telegraph raves: Pink Martini’s “songs swoosh past like fabulous gowns in a vintage fashion parade.”
This performance will feature tracks from their 2010 holiday album, Joy to the World, with classics like “White Christmas” alongside Hebrew prayers, Chinese New Year tunes and a samba-inspired version of “Auld lang syne” as well as crowd favorites from the band’s other non-holiday albums.
“I love the holidays and all the music that goes with it. We strove to make an inclusive and non-denominational album that could be played anywhere in the world. There are 14 songs on Joy to the World including well-known traditional holiday songs like Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas’ sung by China Forbes in English and by the incredible Saori Yuki, ‘the Barbra Streisand of Japan,’ in Japanese,” said Bandleader Thomas Lauderdale.
Featuring a dozen musicians, Pink Martini performs its multilingual repertoire on concert stages and with symphony orchestras throughout Europe, Asia, Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, Northern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South America and North America.
In 1994 in his hometown of Portland, Oregon, Thomas Lauderdale was working in politics, thinking that one day he would run for mayor. Like other eager politicians-in-training, he went to every political fundraiser under the sun… but was dismayed to find the music at these events underwhelming, lackluster, loud and un-neighborly. Drawing inspiration from music from all over the world – crossing genres of classical, jazz and old-fashioned pop – and hoping to appeal to conservatives and liberals alike, he founded the “little orchestra” Pink Martini in 1994 to provide more beautiful and inclusive musical soundtracks for political fundraisers for causes such as civil rights, affordable housing, the environment, libraries, public broadcasting, education and parks.
One year later, Lauderdale called China Forbes, a Harvard classmate who was living in New York City, and asked her to join Pink Martini. They began to write songs together. Their first song “Sympathique” became an overnight sensation in France, was nominated for “Song of the Year” at France’s Victoires de la Musique Awards, and to this day remains a mantra (“Je ne veux pas travailler” or “I don’t want to work”) for striking French workers. Says Lauderdale, “We’re very much an American band, but we spend a lot of time abroad and therefore have the incredible diplomatic opportunity to represent a broader, more inclusive America… the America which remains the most heterogeneously populated country in the world… composed of people of every country, every language, every religion.”
Content and photos submitted by Peter Wilson