ST. JOSEPH — Beyond bringing top-quality performers to St. Joseph’s Shadowland Pavilion, the driving concept behind Summerfest 2019 is to present a range of musical styles that offers something for everyone, regardless of age or musical tastes.
“This is probably one of the most accessible events as far as there is going to be a little something for everyone here,” said Kyle Bartoszek, marketing coordinator for the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra. “It’s our swing at a summer festival that rides the line between a lot of fun for everybody and something that’s culturally impactful.”
The evening’s entertainment will start with the Andrew Fisher Quartet, which breaks the boundaries of traditional jazz, followed by R-E-S-P-E-C-T 2, featuring 10 local women performing the music of 10 women superstars – ranging from Aretha Franklin to Ann Wilson to Gloria Estefan.
The Big Payback will be the house band for R-E-S-P-E-C-T 2, which follows women’s musical journeys from the 1960s to present day.
For those unable to attend Saturday’s Summerfest performance, R-E-S-P-E-C-T 2 also will be presented Friday at The Acorn Theater in Three Oaks.
As in years past, Saturday’s event will feature beer and wine vendors and several food trucks.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T 2 returns after last year’s successful debut at the SMSO-sponsored event. The show, now in its third year, was first performed in Madison, Wis., as a fundraiser by The Big Payback for Planned Parenthood, according to Leah Tirado, the band’s lead singer.
Tirado, who lives in Benton Harbor, will perform music by Estefan.
“We don’t do impersonations of these artists,” she said. “I try to tell all the ladies that they need to bring their own artistry. But people do tend to dress up to pay homage to these female icons.”
She said the show highlights the importance of women’s contribution to the musical landscape.
“It is really important that people see the influence these women have had, especially in the political climate that we are in right now,” Tirado said. “I think it’s really important for women to see themselves represented and see what they can do ... especially young women, to show what their potential is, to see how they can really make a difference through music.”
Other R-E-S-P-E-C-T 2 performers include Andrea Deleon as Sharon Jones, Kecia Deroly as Franklin, Candice Elders as Amy Winehouse, Megan Francis as Blondie, Nikki Gauthier as Stevie Nicks (at Shadowland only), Morgan Ingle as Nicks (at The Acorn only), Carina Kanzler as Adele, Jenna Mammina as Bonnie Raitt, Yolonda Lavender as Lauryn Hill and Meredith George as Wilson.
George, who moved to the area in 2013 with her husband, described herself as a huge Heart fan, and for a brief time performed in a mini Heart, non-touring tribute band.
In last year’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T concert, she performed the music of Alanis Morissette, whose critically acclaimed album, “Jagged Little Pill,” sold more than 33 million copies.
“Last year’s concert was awesome, and the audience seemed to really enjoy the large breadth of different styles of music coming out of the concert, from country to jazz to hip hop,” she said.
She plans to sing three Heart songs this year: “Crazy on You,” “Magic Man” and “What About Love.”
The concert will attest to the rich musical talent found locally, George said.
“It’s awesome to show all the female talent in the area,” she said, “and of course to highlight all the fabulous musicians we are portraying.”
The evening is an important cultural event, Tirado said.
“I think this community is so lucky to have this symphony in town. It’s a small community, so that kind of culture, that kind of art doesn’t usually reach communities like this. It’s usually saved for larger cities,” she said. “I think it’s great that local performers have that opportunity (and) that this area can be exposed to it.”
The symphony wants to celebrate everything that makes the area culturally robust, Bartoszek said.
“Summerfest is a way to experience the local culture of the area in a more relaxed environment than going to a main stage symphony concert,” he said, “but more structured than going on a pub crawl.”