August 1, 2021

Mary Stallings returns to Donostia with her warm vocal jazz

Mary Stallings, at the 2018 Jazzaldia concert. / USOZ

Tomorrow. Considered one of the best living singers of her genre, the American will perform at the Victoria Eugenia Club

Juan G. Andrés

What if I want to go back? I am already waiting for a new invitation ». Mary Stallings said it on July 28, 2018, hours before receiving the Donostiako Jazzaldia Award. Her wish has not taken long to come true and a year and a half later, the great American lady will return to the city tomorrow with her warm vocal jazz. In his recital at the Victoria Eugenia Club he will be accompanied by Phil Wilkinson (piano), Joshua Ginsburg (double bass) and Mario Gonzi (drums).

At her 80th birthday in August, the Californian singer has published countless albums. The last one is titled ‘Songs Were Made to Sing’ (2019) and brings together “an exquisite collection of classic songs that reflect a life enjoyed with passion,” according to the record company. The vocalist is not the author of any of the lyrics, but uses her gift to “transform familiar melodies into deeply personal and captivating stories.”

“It’s amazing how you can feel things in your heart and mind, but can’t find the words to say them,” Stallings said: “So I choose songs that seem to apply to me personally and a story comes from there. I am the product of everything that I have been through in my life, and that comes in my music. My joy is to go on stage and have people listen to my stories.

From church to stage

Like many other jazz divas, Stallings also began singing in church and formed a gospel group with her sisters. His first professional opportunity came before he turned 20 with Louis Jordan, who would be followed by artists such as Cal Tjader, Wes Montgomery, Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie, among other luminaries.

Influenced by myths such as Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan or Billie Holiday, in her press conference in San Sebastian she assured that jazz has given her the opportunity to know the depths of her being. “I have gone through vicissitudes in my career, but here I am,” he declared after his Victoria Eugenia concert and his occasional participation in the concert that the young Cécile McLorin Salvant offered in the Plaza de la Trinidad.

To praise the talent of the American, the phrase published in the ‘New York Times’ is usually cited: “She is, perhaps, the best living jazz singer.” In an interview published in these pages, Mary Stallings acknowledged that such a statement makes her feel good, but then she said: “I do not think about being the best, but about being honest. If my honesty resonates, then I am doing my job well. I’m just a sincere storyteller that reflects one aspect of my life and my emotions.