Tom Sharpe loves the connection he has with the audience when he’s drumming for Grammy…
Last year, the Richmond Performing Arts Alliance switched its Legends on Grace series to a virtual format, featuring artists performing from their homes. This year, RPAA is pivoting once again to a new Legends on Grace series — Nightcaps & Stories. The 90-minute program highlights local legends in an up-close-and-personal cabaret-style setting. The innovative and intimate performances are also available online.
Jacqueline O’Connor, programming and marketing coordinator for RPAA, hopes this series will be as successful as last year’s series. “Last year’s series was amazing. It allowed us to hire about fifty different artists instead of the typical four or five a year,” she says. “The actors got their families involved. It was wonderful.”
She describes this year’s programs as a cross between the Richmond Forum and an English television show called The Graham Norton Show. “He’s a funny guy who interviews people on the sofa with their favorite adult beverage in hand,” she says. “The format is loose. It’s usually a story about the artist you haven’t heard before. He gets the most interesting conversations out of people.”
She thought the combination of the two would create a winning format. “We came up with Nightcaps & Stories where we have legends sitting on a sofa with their favorite beverage and a well-known host who will ask them to talk about their journey,” she says. “It may lead to singing, playing instruments, reading poetry or other things.”
Artists can also bring photos they want to share with the audience via a large projector screen.
Each 90-minute show, starting at 8 p.m., is a one-shot deal on a Saturday night. The shows will run in conjunction with RPAA’s LightsUp educational program. Each artist will come in a day before the performance to stream the show to local schools.
“That gives students a chance to hear the stories and ask questions,” O’Connor says.
The shows will feature different hosts and different artists.
“It will be formatted so each host has a connection to the artist,” O’Connor says. “For example, in October we will have Tim Timberlake host the show with Robin and Linda Williams.”
Because of COVID-19, guests will have two options — in-person with tables spaced out or on-demand virtually.
“We are taping the show and will send it out with twenty-four to forty-eight hours for access to watch it in a week in the comfort of your home,” O’Connor says.
O’Connor looking forward to the lineup this year, she adds. “We are so excited to build upon the success of our Legends on Grace cabaret series with this new in-depth interview format that will also include music highlights of the artist’s extraordinary careers. The best part – there is something for everyone!”
Legends on Grace 2021-22
October 23 – With missionary zeal Robin and Linda Williams have made it their calling to perform their blend of folk, bluegrass, and acoustic country music at concerts, on television, and radio shows including many performances at the Grand Ole Opry and A Prairie Home Companion. Join us for this up-close and personal evening with these Virginia music masters as they share their passion and their experiences from nearly five decades in music.
Hosted by music producer Tim Timberlake
December 4 – James “Plunky” Branch is a saxophonist, songwriter and producer. His extraordinary career includes twenty-five albums covering funk, jazz, African, rap, and R&B. He has appeared in concert with some of the biggest names in music, including Patti LaBelle, Ray Charles, Earth Wind & Fire, LL Cool J, and Chuck Brown.
Hosted by B.J. Brown, executive director of the Richmond Jazz Society
February 5, 2022 – Robbie Schaefer is a musician, songwriter and playwright. He is the founder, songwriter, and guitarist of the acclaimed indie folk-rock band Eddie from Ohio, and has written musicals for the stage, including Light Years which is currently in development as a feature film. Robbie also founded the international non-profit, OneVoice – working with youth around the world to create social change through music and the arts.
Hosted by musician/songwriter/producer Daniel Clarke
Use codes RUSH or RUSHOD to save $10 when ordering tickets: here.
April 23, 2022 – Virginia natives Andrew Alli and Josh Small have taken the Blues scene by storm, bringing their unique harmonica, guitar, and banjo playing talent to Richmond for decades. This very special duo has also toured internationally, developing a worldwide following.
Hosted by Stephen Lecky, musician and director of events at Venture Richmond
June 25, 2022 – Desirée Roots is an award-winning singer and actress. Her ability to sing nearly every genre including Jazz, Gospel, Opera, and popular music has made her one of the region’s most sought-after vocalists. She has been a guest performer with the world-famous Glenn Miller Orchestra, and has shared the stage with Grammy award- winning artists BB King, Buddy Guy, Gerald Albright, and Brian McKnight.
Hosted by Antoinette Essa, WTVR News 6 broadcast journalist