The Music of Ella & Billie

Saturday, Mar. 26 | 8:00pm ET (7:00pm CT)


The Acorn is proud to present a memorable evening featuring the music of jazz greats Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. Featured is all-star cast of four terrifically talented women, all with truly impressive singing, songwriting and theatrical backgrounds. Vocalists include Patti Shaffner, Char Jones, Lauren Dukes and Meredith George. They are accompanied by the phenomenal jazz trio of Leandro López Várady, Scott Pazera and Lannie Turner.

Dubbed “The First Lady of Song,” Ella Fitzgerald was arguably the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century. In her lifetime, she won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums. Her voice was flexible, wide-ranging, accurate and ageless. She could sing sultry ballads, sweet jazz and imitate every instrument in an orchestra. She worked with all the jazz greats, from Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Nat King Cole, to Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Goodman. (Or rather, some might say all the jazz greats had the pleasure of working with Ella).

Nicknamed "Lady Day'' by her friend and music partner Lester Young, Billie Holiday had an innovative influence on jazz music and pop singing - in fact, she was a superstar of her day. Holiday first rose to prominence in the 1930’s with a unique style that reinvented the conventions of modern singing and performance. The evocative, soulful voice which she boldly put forth as a force for good, turned any song she sang into her own. More than 80 years after making her first recording Billie’s legacy continues to embody what is elegant and cool in contemporary music. Today, Billie Holiday is remembered for her musical masterpieces, her songwriting skills, creativity and courageous views on inequality and justice.

About the Artists:

Patti ShaffnerPatti Shaffner
Patti Shaffner performs a wide variety of musical styles including Folk, Blues, Jazz, Theater and Improvisational Singing with ease. As a seasoned performer, she is dynamic and engaging on stage. Her music is thought provoking and reaches out to the heart of our longing for connection with love and hope. Because Ella and Billie are two of her “Sheroes,” Patti is over the moon excited about being part of this top-shelf talent paying honor and respect to the unparalleled impact these two had and have on American Music. Find more about Patti at jazzdakini.com

Char JonesCharlene Jones
Charlene “Char” Jones is a mother, singer, songwriter, recording artist, and motivator. She began her musical journey in the church, where she sang, led the choir, and composed music. Char has served as the Music Director/Pianist for 39 years. Char’s mission is to sing, inspire, and empower. She has traveled and shared her love of music on many different stages. Char’s vocal style can be described as “A soulful mix of Contemporary Gospel infused with Jazz, Soul, and Divine inspiration.” Char’s latest project Stronger 5.0! is currently available on all online music platforms. You can learn more about Char on her website charlenejonesmusic.com.

Lauren DukesLauren Dukes
Lauren Dukes is a singer/songwriter from Chicago. Being entrenched, from an early age, in many different musical styles (including Gospel, Classical, Soul, Rock, Hip Hop, & World music) has shaped her into a well rounded multi-genre artist. With the release of her self-titled EP in 2021, publications from all over the world have agreed she is an artist to have on your radar and playlists. Lauren’s passion and love for the craft is best displayed on live stages as she sings every note with conviction and emotion.

Meredith GeorgeMeredith George
Most 12 year olds don’t know all the words to A-Tisket, A-Tasket or have the greatest hits of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne and Rosemary Clooney on rotation in their 5 CD changer boombox. But Meredith George wasn’t your typical 12 year old. Raised by a mother whose secret desire was to become a singer in a smokey jazz lounge, Meredith has put all the years of piano lessons, musicals and choirs to good use, along with her degree in Music Business. As part of local trio The Backups, Meredith plays piano and sings with two of her best friends. She describes Jazz and the “lady-crooners” Ella, Billie, Lena and Rosemary as her all time musical favorites.

Leandro López VáradyLeandro López Várady
Leandro López Várady graduated from the Catholic University of Argentina (UCA) as Licentiate in Music, majoring in Composition with a Gold Medal and Awards. López Várady has performed at festivals around the world, including the Chicago Jazz Festival; the Detroit Jazz Festival; “Made in Chicago “ Festival in Poznan, Poland; Havana Jazz Festival in Havana, Cuba and the 57th International Festival in Ruse, Bulgaria. Leandro received a Gold Record Award for his participation in Mietek Szcześniak’s Nierówmi album. He is the Music Director/Pianist for the Lookingglass’ stage production The Steadfast Tin Soldier directed by Mary Zimmerman. Currently, López Várady is the pianist for the Orbert Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. He also is a member of Doug Lofstrom & New Quartet, Steve Hashimoto's "Sueños," Juli Wood's "Chicago Calling" and the Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre Music Ensemble.

Scott PazeraScott Pazera
Bassist/Guitarist Scott Pazera has been playing over 35 years and has been a mainstay of the music scene throughout the Midwest. He has directed the Wabash College Jazz Ensemble for 9 years and also spent 2 years directing the Jazz Bands at Purdue University. He is a motivated instructor, small business owner and spirited performer. Comfortable in any genre, Scott has been performing publicly with his own jazz groups and often works as a sideman to some of the top performers in Chicago and Indianapolis including such artists as Rich Little, Veruca Salt, Ce Ce Peniston, Med Flory (Supersax), Fareed Haque, Henry Johnson, Bill Lancton, Byron Stripling, Rachel Yamagata, James Russell, Satya Graha, Mike Mandell and many others.

Photo ID and proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to entry is required. Masks are encouraged and appreciated. Click here to learn more about Acorn Covid-19 Policy.

RESERVED SEATING DONATION option includes a $25 tax-deductible donation to The Acorn and guarantees you a seat with optimal sightlines. $25 Donation per ticket holder in your group.

Box Office opens at 4:00pm ET
Starts 8:00pm, doors open 7:00pm

Artistry, Up Close

The intimate, acoustically-rich Acorn environment encourages interaction between the artists and audience.

About The Acorn Center for the Performing Arts

The Acorn brings great known performers and amazing new ones to southwest Michigan.  Located in the historic featherbone factory, The Acorn’s friendly staff and volunteers, and an acoustically rich sound system combine for memorable experiences. We’re located in Three Oaks, Michigan …  just over an hour from downtown Chicago and 30 minutes from South Bend, IN.

The Acorn, a nonprofit organization, annually hosts a singer songwriter competition and a Spectacular Tournament of Playwrights. Our Open Mic nights showcase a variety of strong talent and our educational workshops include songwriting and master classes in performance.

The Acorn’s Mission

To offer a broad range of high-quality arts and education programming that nurtures cultural experience, participation and community engagement among residents and visitors of all ages and enhances the economic vitality of the region.

Learn More