Russell to visit Opera House

FAIRMONT – Resurrecting long lost songs is Catherine Russell’s passion. With her voice and her stories, she brings these songs to life, and she’s eager to share the experience with her audiences.

On April 11, Russell will perform at Fairmont Opera House, accompanied by her three-piece band.

“I am really excited about coming to sing in that venue,” said the native New Yorker.

Russell has performed throughout the country and throughout the world, touring and recording with David Bowie, Steely Dan, Cyndi Lauper and Rosanne Cash, just to name a few.

“Touring with bigger acts taught me about the road, the nuts and bolts of being on the road, and how I need to travel and how I need to run a band and what it is that keeps all those veterans out there. And they’re out there for life – it’s not just a fair-weather thing.

“Everyone I’ve worked with, all the people I have sung behind,” she said, listing off Bette Middler, Paul Simon, even Snoop Dogg. “… I learned from all of them. They’re great artists. They continue to create great music.”

But the music that has brought Russell into the spotlight since the release of her debut album in 2006 are the songs and sounds first created during the time her father was a young musician. The late Luis Russell was Louis Armstrong’s long-time collaborator and music director.

As a solo act, Russell has received rave reviews from critics, including the likes of National Public Radio and Wall Street Journal, and earned acclaim and awards in the world’s jazz scene. She’s sold out shows at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and won a Grammy Award as a featured artists on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” soundtrack album.

At the Opera House, Russell will showcase blues and swing tunes from her recently released album “Bring It Back,” with a mixture of songs from her other four albums.

Though Russell crosses many musical genres, she only chooses songs that meet her criteria: They must tell a great story. They must be fun – for her as the singer, for her band, and for the audience.

“I hope [when my audience goes home after a show] that they feel better than when they came in,” she said. “I hope that we’ve shared some ideas and some feeling, and I hope that we have explored some of our affairs of the heart, and I hope that they just forget about their problems.”

On her new album, the artists Russell covers are familiar names, such as Ella Fitzgerald and Armstrong, but the songs themselves might not be so familiar. That’s because Russell is not just a singer and dancer, she also has evolved into a researcher and a historian, finding old songs that were lost in the archives, or sometimes never even made it into the archives.

Re-creating music that hasn’t been heard since it was first played on the dance floor is like magic to her.

“You get into all that history and it’s just great,” she said. “That just is a never-ending process of joy for me to find these gems.”

Tickets to see Russell perform 7:30 p.m. April 11 at Fairmont Opera House are $20 for adults and $10 for students. To purchase seats, call the Opera House at (507) 238-4900, or go online to www.fairmontoperahouse.com. Tickets also will be sold at the box office an hour prior to showtime.