Balé Folclórico da Bahia: A Brazilian Street Party in a Convenient Location


With a Balé Folclórico da Bahia performance get ready to have your mind blown. Between the costumes, drums, and dancing you will leave the Rialto completely forgetting that you saw this show in downtown Atlanta. Exiting the theater you might be thinking, “Wow I got to go to Brazil without taking off any time from work!” That is the power of Balé Folclórico da Bahia.

Balé Folclórico da Bahia is the primary folk dance and music company in Brazil. Formed in 1988, this 38-member troupe of dancers, musicians, and singers has gained a considerable amount of success in such a short amount of time. Their dances feature a nice mix of traditional African folk movements, capoeira (a form of martial arts), samba, and the dances of Carnival. This troupe puts on a show that has got something in it for all movement fans while still sticking to their traditional Brazilian roots.

Balé Folclórico da Bahia also has a fair number of awards under their belt. At the Bahia International Dance Festival Balé Folclórico da Bahia was awarded the prize, “Best Performance of the Year” given by the Ministry of Culture through the National Institute of Dance. The Ministry of Culture has also awarded the troupe a spot on the list of most important dance companies to come out of Brazil. Balé Folclórico da Bahia had so much success on their first United States tour back in ‘95-‘96 this will be the group’s eighth trip to the USA, adding 88 more cities since their first tour. So come celebrate the 25th anniversary of this amazing collective dance and musical troupe.

Balé Folclórico da Bahia comes to The Rialto Center for the Arts in November and will be performing two shows, one on November 1 and the second on November 2, both at 8pm.  For tickets go online at or call 404-413-9849. FREE PARKING for all Rialto shows.

Jocelyn Sarvady


Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club: A Transportation to Havana using the Power of Music

Buena Vista 3

The Rialto Theater brings you the excitement and wonder of Havana, Cuba without the pricey airplane ticket with Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club. From the group’s hit songs like “Chan Chan,” Orquesta’s music gets one thinking about love and life while they welcome you into their family.

The members of Orquesta have such pride in their country’s culture. The joy and spirit of Cuba is undeniable when Orquesta takes the stage, every member of the Orquesta crew grins from ear to ear with a passion and fire in them only true artists possess. One reviewer of the group’s album “Buena Vista Social Club” wrote, “Ry Cooder (the recording artist who discovered them) could have recorded these songs without paying the musicians a cent; one can imagine them jumping up and grabbing for their instruments at the slightest opportunity, just to play.” No one could have predicted that the Buena Vista Social Club would grow into a global sensation.

Now is the time to see Orquesta, the band recently announced that their 2013 world tour will include several of the Buena Vista Social Club alumni.  Aside from the band’s title album “Buena Vista Social Club” (1997) Buena Vista also released “Buena Vista Social Club at Carnegie Hall” (2008) and most recently “The Best of Buena Vista” (2012).

Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club’s music is a fusion of Afro-Cuban Jazz, Latin Jazz, world, and a Cuban traditional sound as well as keeping the audience their toes by incorporating the musical styles of Cuba from the 1920’s through 1950’s with a twist of salsa, swing, and ballroom dance. The group manages to blend all these different influences to create a seamless sound all their own.

Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club will be performing at the Rialto Theater of the Arts Saturday, October 5. For tickets go online at or call 404-413-9849. FREE PARKING for all Rialto shows.

Jocelyn Sarvady

Soweto Gospel Choir: The International Sound of Joy and Grace



  Not many artists can sing their hearts out in Swahili, Zulu traditional, and Sotho traditional; even fewer can also perform “Amazing Grace,” “Ave Maria,” and Paul Simon’s “Bridge over Troubled Water,” with so much emotion and power you’ll forget they didn’t write these masterpieces themselves. To quote an article in the Montreal Gazette about a recent show Soweto Gospel Choir performed in Canada, “…easy to imagine that God himself was snapping his fingers.”

The founding musical director of the Soweto Gospel Choir David Mulovhedzi was interviewed for on the history of gospel choirs in South Africa and stated, “They (churches) would preach to people that there shouldn’t be hate. At times, Gospel music was a Godsend to the South African people, and as a result, most of the choirs and people enjoyed the hymns from different churches. So, when the Gospel choir was formed, we had to sing all those beautiful hymns from different churches and bring them together as the one musical voice for South Africa.” Soweto Gospel Choir does a stellar job practicing what they preach, with every performance the audience hears a variety of languages, but the message is always clear. The choir performs songs overflowing with joy and faith that has the potential to melt the heart of the world’s biggest cynic. 

 It is not simply the pleasure of music that makes the Soweto Choir’s message tug at your purse strings. In 2003 the Soweto Gospel Choir founded its own AIDS orphans foundation, Nkosi’s Haven Vukani, to assist underfunded organizations. Soweto Gospel Choir has already raised millions and travels all over South Africa to perform for charitable organizations. Mulovhedzi said, “With the donations that we receive at our shows, we buy clothes, blankets, the bare necessities for those kids. We make a better life for them as orphans. Sometimes, they cannot depend on their government, so, we have to play a part in assisting those kids. During our shows, we do our best so that it’s not only about entertaining people and touring the world, but we have a duty to fulfill.”

The Soweto Gospel Choir website is dedicated to David Mulohvhedzi, who passed away in 2009.

To make a donation to Nkosi Haven click on the link below

 The Soweto Gospel Choir comes to The Rialto Center of the Arts on February 8, 2014.  For tickets go online at or call 404-413-9849. FREE PARKING for all Rialto shows.

Jocelyn Sarvady

The Idan Raichel Project brings Peace to the Middle East


Creator and face of The Idan Raichel Project, Israeli-born Idan Raichel’s charm, voice, and piano-playing skills make us ignore the fact that most of his song lyrics are in other languages. Raichel’s music is mostly in Hebrew, with a splash of Arabic, Swahili, Amharic, and Spanish. The Idan Rachel Project draws from many influences to bring their fans a once in a lifetime show. By blending African, Latin American, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern, The Idan Raichel Project makes a noble effort to unite the world through song.

The story of Raichel’s journey is enough to convert you into a fan. An Israeli law mandates all men and women to join the army at the age of eighteen, so Raichel entered the service. But instead of going to the front lines Raichel played in the army’s rock band. From the beginning of his career he wanted his music to be diverse and have a message with a universal connection. Raichel then surprised many by inviting friends from the Arab community to take the stage with him. He was later signed with Helicon Records and offered the opportunity to create an album, which was a quick success. The Idan Raichel Project has worked with over 95 different singers from the ages of 16 to 91; The Project is truly a melting pot of different countries and spiritual beliefs.

While Raichel’s music is technically labeled as “pop” many would say his material is more eclectic and alternative sounding. Raichel uses the Old Testament as a template for many of his songs. Raichel said, in an interview with the New York Times, “I use the Bible because all the most important and beautiful things have already been said, so that the best that I can probably do is repeat them.” With Raichel’s message of peace and voice like an angel, every track is a new gem you will want to hear and your heart will help you figure out what The Idan Raichel Project is saying to you.   

The Idan Raichel Project comes to The Rialto Center of the Arts on October 20, 2013.  For tickets go online at or call 404-413-9849. FREE PARKING for all Rialto shows.

Jocelyn Sarvady

Pamella Windham, A True Rialto Jazz for Kids All-Star

Pamella Windham

Pamella Windham

In Atlanta in 1940, a swinging sextet played the tunes of Bennie Goodman at Rich’s Tea Room downtown. The guitarist was 18 year old Pamella Windham, future member of United States Coast Guard, teacher, GSU alumna, and major donor to Rialto Jazz for Kids. Pamella started playing music in the 6th grade when her father took her to Ritter Music Company on Auburn Avenue and let her pick out a Gibson guitar.

When Pamella was four years old she moved from New Orleans to Marietta. Her father, a mechanic and veteran of WWI, was offered a job at a new Ford dealership. Early in her life her father got the idea that he wanted to play the guitar, so after work he took lessons and learned to play the Hawaiian guitar. Pamella’s father wanted her to learn the Classical guitar but she preferred to play jazz.

After graduating from high school in the midst of WWII, Pamella joined a program called National Youth Administration where she learned the fundamentals of radio and Morse Code. She spent two years in the United States Coast Guard in the Women’s Reserve using her skills. Later those same skills helped her land a job with Delta Air Lines taking reservations. In those days a reservation would be sent by Morse Code.

After the Coast Guard Pamella attended Tift College, then Peabody College (now part of Vanderbilt University) for her master’s in Education. After many years of teaching she came to Georgia State University to earn her six-year certificate. Pamella taught elementary school for 32 years. She started out in 4th grade but eventually moved to 1st and 2nd grades. She brought her love of music into the classroom by playing her guitar and letting the children sing.
In April, 73 years since she played her guitar at Rich’s Tea Room, Pamella gave the gift of music education by donating $20,000 to the Rialto Jazz for Kids program. The number of lives that will be influenced by this gift is immeasurable. Pamella is truly a Rialto Jazz for Kids All-Star.

Rialto Jazz for Kids Jazz Jam: lessons for life

Jazz Jam 2013

What a night!  Experiencing the future of jazz music was like glimpsing into a crystal ball.  The faces, representing every measurable demographic, will be the same faces on stages and in audiences for the next fifty to seventy-five years.  These 11 – 13 year old students are given an opportunity to experience a vibrant life fulfilled with music.  They not only learn to perform music, but how to listen to it and each other; including the discipline of perfection through give and take, when to be loud and when to be quiet.   

As years pass, the trumpet may get pushed further to the back of their closets, but when Joe Gransden is in town, these individuals will be the first to buy a ticket.   Others may head straight for a Grammy because of their passion for music discovered at such a young age.  Regardless of the role music will play in their lives, the lessons learned will be used in the board room as frequently as they will in the band room.

If all the World played the music of life as compassionately as these middle schoolers, what a beautiful song we could be.  If we could learn to play our parts with excellence, lending our skill to the greater creation and timing our solos with the grace and generosity shown by these children, what a peaceful world we would live in.

Jazz for Kids middle school students from, Inman, J.C. Young, Ridgeview, Sandtown, Sequoyah, and Taylor Road participated in the 2013 Jazz Jam at the Rialto on Tuesday evening, May 7th.  Each school played 3 jazz selections complete with individual soloist popping up here and there.  The evening culminated in several songs by the combo big band Rialto Jazz for Kids All-Stars. This program is led by Dr. Gordon Vernick.    

Rialto Jazz for Kids graduate is off to college

Jeffrey Cox on Trumpet

Jeffrey Cox on Trumpet

Jeffrey Cox, a senior at Grady High School and participant in the newly formed High School Rialto Jazz for Kids program, will be attending New England Conservatory of Music in Boston in the fall with a scholarship in jazz performance.  Jeffrey says none of this would have happened without the Rialto Jazz for Kids program he participated in at Inman Middle School. 

Jeffrey began playing the piano at age 5 encouraged by his mother who also played.  In 3rd grade students were given the opportunity to participate in band.  Jeffrey’s parents stipulated that he had to choose an instrument he could carry so he chose the trumpet.  Just when Jeffrey was about to drop out of band because he “just wasn’t that into it,” Dr. Gordon Vernick entered his life through Rialto Jazz for Kids, a program that brings teaching artists into the schools once a month to teach a small group how to play jazz.  By choosing to participate in this free early morning program, Jeffrey renewed his interest in music. At the time, Jeffrey was still playing the trumpet but was more interested in the piano and the guitar.  However being around such an amazing trumpeter and teacher like Dr. Vernick, Jeffrey received direction not only in playing the trumpet but also in life.  This experience set Jeffrey on a path involving jazz music.  This not only allowed Jeffrey to connect with his talent but it introduced him to influential musicians, teachers, and some of his very best friends.  Jeffrey, along with a few other Rialto Jazz for Kids alumni, regularly book gigs.  The Jeffrey Cox Quintet recently played to a sold out crowd at the Velvet Note.  Rialto Jazz for Kids has given him direction and opened doors.  Jeffrey said that if it weren’t for Jazz for Kids “I would have had nothing to be passionate about and I doubt I would be going to music school.”