Jazz Hip-Hop Artist José James Brings 70s Soul Legend Bill Withers to SOPAC on March 2

José James (Photo via SOPAC)


South Orange Performing Arts Center presents José James in “Lean on Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers.” A deep and soulful young vocalist whose international profile has exploded in the last few years, José James will bring a celebration of the music of iconic Soul singer and composer Bill Withers to the SOPAC stage on Mar 2 at 8:00 p.m. The three-time Grammy Award winner Bill Withers ruled the airwaves in the 70s and 80s with his classic renditions of “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Lean on Me,” “Lovely Day,” “Grandma’s Hands,” and many more.

James’s flexibility and expansive musical taste is reflected in his hugely diverse résumé, which includes work with Jazz great Chico Hamilton as well as Electronica hero Flying Lotus. In his review for The New York Times, writer Ben Ratliff described James as “a romantic baritone with a deep-Funk band, stretching out songs, evoking both the 70s of Roberta Flack and Gil Scott-Heron and the 90s and oughts of J Dilla.”

Vetted personally by Mr. Withers himself, Lean on Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers is an exploration of the deep musical catalogue that touched millions of hearts and united communities worldwide. Featuring Withers’ top ten hits as well as his Soul ballads and rare grooves, James brings both a deep musical appreciation and a contemporary approach to songs such as “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Hope She’ll Be Happier,” and “Just the Two of Us.”

Fittingly, James has assembled a truly all-star cast of musicians to play with him: Nate Smith on drums, Reuben Rodgers on bass, James Francies on keys and Brad Allen Williams on guitar.

José James on the Bill Withers project:

“His songs reflect a love for community, for unification; his music respects elders, mentors and explores male vulnerability in a way that’s missing from today’s R&B. And his catalog is vast and powerful. He’s simply one of the best living songwriters, period. “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Lean on Me,” “Grandma’s Hands,” “Lovely Day,” “Just the Two of Us” – who wouldn’t want to sing these amazing songs? The hard part was choosing between his nine albums. I think we found the perfect balance between soulful ballads, the radio hits and the deep cut rare grooves.”

“Lean on Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers” comes to SOPAC on March 2 at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at www.SOPACnow.org/jose-james or by calling the box office at (973) 313-2787.

Made possible by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

The South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) is a 501(c)(3)charitable organization.

Since 2006, 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 premier arts center hosts a variety of live performances, community events and education programs for all ages. To further expand its offerings, SOPAC has a partnership with the Juilliard School of Music to present Juilliard @ SOPAC—a series featuring upcoming musicians from the acclaimed conservatory. SOPAC is home for Seton Hall University Arts Council’s performances, including Classical Concert Series, Jazz ‘N the Hall performances and Seton Hall University Theatre productions. SOPAC also presents performances by its theater company in-residence, American Theater Group. For more information, visit SOPACnow.org.