Tulsa’s Summer Shows Attract Star Power


Diana Krall: The singer and pianist performs beloved jazz classics at the Tulsa PAC on June 27.

Have you ever wondered what qualities make a star? The entertainment business is famously competitive, with few spots open at the top. Why do some performers strike gold when most do not?

In researching the celebs who are slated to appear locally, it occurred to me that talents like country singer Darius Rucker, rapper Pitbull and jazz artist Diana Krall, while diverse in what they offer, share essential traits. Their commonality, I believe, is that they’re uncommonly savvy if not simply brilliant.

Raised in a fatherless home, Darius Rucker at one time shared a three-bedroom house with his mother, two aunts, grandmother and 13 other children. He focused on singing from a young age and found a way to shine. You might remember him as the lead singer and guitarist for Hootie & the Blowfish. Like many stars with staying power ? think Madonna and Lady Gaga ? he reinvented himself. Leaving his rock roots behind, he brought his rich baritone voice to country music. Successful black country artists are rare. Building on his past success, Darius Rucker found a niche and filled it. “When Was the Last Time” is Rucker’s latest album, released in October 2017. He’ll cover music from that album and perform other hits at the River Spirit Casino Resort, June 21.

I enjoy rap music. My appreciation began with the exceedingly talented Eminem. He can rhyme and rap without missing a beat, and his songs are as clever as they are provocative. I think Cuban-American rapper Pitbull, also known as “Mr. Worldwide,” is comparably skilled. What he’s made of his talent is monumental. The son of two Cuban-born parents who split early, he spent time in a foster home and managed to pull his life together. His raw talent, motivation and instinct for what to do with what he has, made him a music-world standout. He’s collaborated with the industry’s biggest names, produced number one hits in 15 countries and logged 10 billion YouTube/VEVO views. “Don’t Stop the Party,” “Get It Started,” “I Know You Want Me,” and “Bon, Bon” are a few of this dapper rapper’s hits. See him at River Spirit’s Paradise Cove, July 9. Another big draw at the Casino Resort will be Culture Club and The B-52s on July 12.

Jazz talent Diana Krall was born in a small Canadian town and showed prodigious talent at the piano early on. We know her mostly as a singer, but she only started singing at the encouragement of Ray Brown. Her husky voice paired well with her exceptional piano talent and the combination skyrocketed her to stardom. She’s always struck me as being introverted, very complex and smart. A big fan of her music, I saw Krall perform at the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Jazz Festival and later again in Oklahoma City. A jazz lover will appreciate her “Live in Paris” CD as well as her latest, “Turn Up the Quiet,” which is the name of her tour. The new CD features jazz standards that were selected and arranged by Krall. I’m looking forward to hearing her and the phenomenal musicians that accompany her in concert June 27 at the Tulsa .

Also about town, The Joint at the Hard Rock Casino gives us something to smile about with comic George Lopez, June 16; the band Kansas, July 1; and Donnie and Marie, July 8.

Continuing its 10-year anniversary season, the Center hosts the return of The Eagles, June 17. One of the most popular bands of all time, The Eagles opened the a decade ago. Coming our way on July 3, the English rock band Bush plays at the Brady Theater.

SummerStage has been a staple at the Tulsa for as long as I can remember. This year will be the last for SummerStage, which focuses on local talent. I encourage you to check out the full roster of shows on the ’s website, but jazz fan that I am, I want to mention “Janet Rutland Sings Gershwin,” June 14-15 and Cynthia Simmons’ “Love in Concert,” June 23. These two women are consummate performers.

The final show in Celebrity Attractions’ 2017-18 season is one I have been waiting for, “An American in Paris,” with music and lyrics of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin. Playing at the Tulsa June 19-24, the musical is based on the beloved 1951 film starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. Dance world luminary Christopher Wheeldon adapted it and directed and choreographed the show. Tulsans may have seen Wheeldon’s work performed by Tulsa Ballet. He is a dance master of the first order and this is his Broadway baby. “An American in Paris” takes place in post-World War II and centers on the romance between an American soldier and a French girl. A showcase for great costumes and timeless music, this production won four 2015 Tony Awards, among many other honors. I expect to be swept off my feet by the dance and romance.

The stars come out in June and July, but whether you are drawn to a Broadway blockbuster, a big-name singer or an intimate show featuring our brilliant local talent, I hope you will seek out live entertainment this summer.

Updated 06-18-2018

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