Irvine Barclay Theatre


Georgia On My Mind Features an all-star cast of award-winning performers: Nnenna FreelonKirk Whalum;  Clint Holmes and Take 6



Georgia On My Mind: A Celebration of Ray Charles and His Music

Sunday, February 23, 2020 at 7:00 PM


Tickets: $45, $60 $75, $110

Irvine Barclay Theatre - 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine CA | 949.854.4646

Ray Charles is an American treasure. A Georgia native son, he combined blues, gospel, R&B, rock, country music and jazz to create groundbreaking hits and spread his music around the world. Featuring an all-star cast of award-winning performers, Georgia on My Mind is an exciting feel-good extravaganza that celebrates the music of this legendary genius. Boasting cherished hit songs including Hit the Road Jack, Baby It's Cold Outside, Alexander's Ragtime Band, and Georgia On My Mind, this dazzling, soulful night of music is filled with iconic tunes and magnetic, spirit-lifting performances. Baby, Let the Good Times Roll…


Featuring Grammy-winning vocal sensation Take 6; Grammy-nominated singer Nnenna Freelon; Grammy-winning jazz saxophonist-songwriter Kirk Whalum; and Grammy-nominated singer Clint Holmes.


Watch Preview on YouTube


Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004), a Georgia native son, was an American treasure. He transcended racism, cultural upheavals, and spread his music around the world… he was a genius!

Charles pioneered the soul music genre during the 1950s by combining blues, rhythm and blues, and gospel styles into the music he recorded for Atlantic. He contributed to the integration of country music, rhythm and blues, and pop music during the 1960s with his crossover success on ABC Records, notably with his two Modern Sounds albums. While he was with ABC, Charles became one of the first black musicians to be granted artistic control by a mainstream record company. Ray won every major award… from the Georgia Music Hall of Fame to the Hollywood Walk of Fame… from the Kennedy Center Honors to a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Charles is a 17-time Grammy Award winner Ten of his recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.





Interview with Clint Holmes


Like a painter with a blank canvas, Clint Holmes makes every performance an original. His powerful voice and magnetic stage presence embrace the upbeat side of life. When Clint is on stage, anything can happen, and usually does.


Holmes comes by his tremendous talent naturally. His father is an African-American jazz musician and his mother is a classically trained opera singer from Great Britain. Clint admits it was the best of two musical worlds. “My mom taught me how to sing correctly, and my dad taught me how to enjoy it.” Casual elegance describes Clint’s presence on stage. He has a magical way of filling a room with a warm, comfortable sound. Clint’s musical selections range from contemporary to classic, with jazz and opera thrown into the mix. In addition, he has an energy and passion for life and performing that are infectious. He exudes pure joy when he sings.


Having spent more than 40 years performing, Holmes has served as Joan Rivers’ sidekick and announcer on The Late Show, as the musical feature and event correspondent for Entertainment Tonight. and as the host of his own Emmy Award-winning talk/variety show. Holmes freely admits, though, that he loves nothing more than performing before a live audience. In 2006, his PBS special of his Las Vegas act was aired nationwide.


Since moving to Las Vegas, Clint has become a favorite of the Las Vegas community, as well as a major star in the entertainment arena. He was selected as the Best Kept Secret by Las Vegas Life magazine, and Best Singer (two years in a row), Best All-Around Las Vegas Performer and

Favorite Male Las Vegan by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Clint was inducted into the Buffalo Musical Hall of Fame and into the Casino Legends Hall of Fame.


Perhaps what has endeared Clint most to the people of Las Vegas is his never-ending spirit of graciousness. He has become involved with several worthwhile causes in the community, including Candlelighters, ROB Reachout, Shadetree, St. Jude’s, and various cultural events. Following a brief battle with cancer, he is currently serving as a spokesman for the American Cancer Society. He has also taken a special interest in mentoring young people interested in becoming entertainers by working closely with the Las Vegas Academy of Performing Arts. In December 2005, he launched the Clint Holmes Foundation for the Performing Arts, which benefits children in art and music programs in the Clark County School District.


In the world of theater, Clint is a seasoned performer and writer. Along with Nelson Cole, he created the book, music and lyrics for the musical, Comfortable Shoes. Clint starred in the world premiere of this musical at the legendary Papermill Playhouse in 1996. The musical had another successful run at the Royal George Theatre in Chicago in 2002.  Clint also starred as Simon Zealotes in Youth Theatre America’s one-night-only benefit production of Jesus Christ Superstar with Ted Neeley, Yvonne Elliman, Barry Dennen, Ben Vereen, and Jack Black.


Clint wrote the musical Just Another Man with Larry Moss and Bill Fayne in 2007. The world premiere starring Mr. Holmes was presented by the Nevada Conservatory Theatre at the Judy Bayley Theater at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In late 2011, he premiered a major cabaret piece, Remembering Bobby Short, a loving homage to the man who defined New York cabaret. It was performed at the legendary Café Carlyle, where Bobby Short held court for over thirty years. In early 2012, he premiered another major work, This Thing Called Love directed by Larry Moss, to rave reviews.


Clint continues to create with his musical director and arranger, the international, award-winning composer, arranger and performer, Jeffrey Neiman. Mr. Neiman has had a long and distinguished career in music, production and film and television scoring. Along with Mr. Holmes and director Larry Moss, he is the co-writer of the Clint Holmes shows Inspired, Remembering Bobby Short and the Bistro Award-winning This Thing Called Love.


From 2012 through 2017, Holmes was honored to serve as the artist-in-residence at Cabaret Jazz in the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, a world-class performing arts center in Las Vegas, where he performed a new show each month to sell-out crowds. In 2017, he was awarded the distinct honor of 2017 Casino Entertainer of the Year.


His 2017 release, Rendezvous, is a star-studded jazz collective and was honored with two Grammy nominations for the tracks "Every Time We Say Goodbye" with Jane Monheit and "There's A Boat That's Leavin' Soon for New York" with Dee Dee Bridgewater. The album was produced by eight-time Grammy winner Gregg Field. 




Interview with Kirk Whalum


Soulful, passionate, stirring—these are the words most often used to describe Kirk’s music. Forged from his Memphis, Tennessee, gospel roots and his 1980s initiation into the thriving Houston, Texas, nightclub scene, Kirk’s big, rich tenor sound is unmistakably his own. The 80s were highlighted by Kirk’s stepping out of his blossoming sideman role and forming his own band. It was there that Kirk ultimately developed both his “voice” and songwriting in the crucible of the local club scene––especially at a rooftop club called Cody’s. It was also in Houston where jazz pianist Bob James “discovered” him and brought him on tour, leading to five successful albums with Columbia Records, including Caché, Kirk’s first No.1 album. Kirk and Bob also received a Grammy nomination for their collaboration album, Joined at the Hip, in 1995. After moving to Los Angeles, Kirk became an in-demand session player for top artists like Barbra Streisand, Al Jarreau, Luther Vandross, Larry Carlton, Quincy Jones and most notably, Whitney Houston, amongst many others.


It’s his sax heard on the mega-hit, “I Will Always Love You.” Kirk soon followed that career high point with his phenomenal hit album, For You, released on Warner Bros. Records. It is, perhaps, the most successful of over 25 solo recordings to date; others include his eclectic, and much lauded, Gospel According to Jazz series (Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4). In addition to his many solo projects, Kirk was also a member of the popular soul/jazz group, BWB, which features Kirk as the “W” of the group with Rick Braun (trumpet) and Norman Brown (guitar).


An ordained minister, Kirk has earned an M.A. in Religion. It’s in this spirit that he serves his community in various ways when his touring schedule allows. There is also his daily fifteen-minute podcast, Bible in Your Ear (BIYE), during which he invites you to listen along as he reads through the Bible in a year. In addition to music and ministry, Kirk has a passion for educating young, aspiring musicians and is currently engaged as a music professor at Visible Music College in his hometown of Memphis.


Kirk is the recipient of numerous awards and acknowledgements for his musical excellence, including three Dove Award nominations, an NAACP Image Award nomination and has won two Stellar Awards— gospel music’s highest honor. A twelve-time Grammy nominee, Kirk won his first Grammy Award (2011) for Best Gospel Song (“It’s What I Do,” featuring Lalah Hathaway), alongside life-long friend and gifted songwriter, Jerry Peters.




Interview with Nnenna Freelon


Six-time Grammy Award nominee, Nnenna Freelon has earned a well-deserved reputation as a compelling and captivating live performer. In the past couple of years, Nnenna starred in the critically acclaimed show, Georgia on My Mind: Celebrating the Music of Ray Charles, at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. Nnenna is no stranger to the music of the master singer—she toured with Ray Charles, as well as many other great jazz artists, including Ellis Marsalis, Al Jarreau and George Benson.


Nnenna has always been respected as an artist and for her passion for education. In November 2011, The White House asked Freelon to headline the Asia-Pacific Economic Summit for 300 presidents, premiers and heads of state from around the world. The YWCA of North Carolina awarded her the inaugural Legend Award for her commitment to the arts and arts education.


Freelon has dedicated herself to educating young people, both musicians and non-musicians, and students of all ages. She toured the United States for four years as the national spokesperson for Partners in Education. Her master classes and workshops, from Sound Sculpture to the ground-breaking Babysong, teach adults and children that you, too, can change the world—even one person at a time. Using her anthem “One Child at a Time” (found on her Soulcall CD), Freelon took on the task of fundraising and bringing greater attention to the needs of children in education through mentoring and the arts. It has become a sought-after song by countless organizations, including the United Way.

As writer, composer and producer, Nnenna’s recent productions include the original theatrical presentation of The Clothesline Muse, a devised theatrical work of dance, music, spoken word, vibrant art and projections. She was also one of the stars of the musical theater piece. The Clothesline Muse premiered at the Painted Bride Arts Center in Philadelphia in 2013 with a national tour in 2015. The production was made possible with the assistance of her daughter, visual artist Maya Freelon-Asante and Kariamu Welsh, chairman of dance at Temple University. The play won a National Theater Project creation grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), a much sought-after honor only awarded to six worthy recipients. The play has also been supported by the National Performance Network.


Nnenna triumphed in composer Laura Karpman’s undertaking of Langston Hughes’ Ask Your Mama at the Apollo Theater and at the Hollywood Bowl concert with opera superstar Jessye Norman and the indie phenom band The Roots. She also wowed audiences at SRO shows at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival with the Duke Ellington-inspired Dreaming The Duke with classical star Harolyn Blackwell and pop-jazz-crossover pianist Mike Garson.


Nnenna’s talent is not limited to performing. Her television appearance on In Performance at the White House, celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, led to the versatile songstress/composer having a featured song on the hit television show Mad Men. That was followed by a new collaboration on tour with legendary guitarist Earl Klugh and with legendary pianist Ramsey Lewis.


Honors and awards are nothing new for Nnenna. In 2019, the National Association of Women in the Arts awarded her the Youth Empowerment Through the Arts Award and Artist of the Year Award. She was named a 2010 Woman of Substance by Bennett College for Woman; and delivered the keynote address for the 2010 Arts Midwest Conference. Freelon is a winner of both the Billie Holiday Award from the prestigious Académie du Jazz and the Eubie Blake Award from the Cultural Crossroads Center in New York City. She was nominated twice as Lady of Soul by the Soul Train Awards.


At the 43rd annual Grammy Awards, she inspired an enthusiastic standing ovation from 20,000 music industry insiders and other celebrities when she took to the stage. She receives similar reactions for her ongoing concert, television and special event performances, including the prestigious headline spot for ActionAID, Sir Elton John’s international AIDS fundraiser.


Born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Freelon received her undergraduate degree from Simmons College in Boston. Her parents and singing in the church gave the singer her first exposure to the arts—especially the art of jazz. Her father played Count Basie recordings and her mother’s active involvement in their church led Freelon to appreciate all music. Ultimately, she pursued a career in jazz in which she has excelled. All the while, Freelon has cherished and held dear her two most important lifetime roles—wife and mother. Her husband, Phil Freelon, is an award-winning architect based in North Carolina, whose most recent work as the lead architect of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture has received worldwide praise. As the mother of three, Freelon has led by example—follow your dreams, dedicate yourself, and work hard in all you do.




Take 6—took 10… that is, 10 Grammy Awards and 10 Dove Awards. Recently inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, these men have done it all in every genre! Take 6 showcases six voices united in crystal clear harmony, placed against a backdrop of syncopated rhythms, innovative

arrangements and funky grooves that bubble into an intoxicating brew of gospel, jazz, R&B and pop. Members Claude McKnight, Mark Kibble (who, in 2018, won his 11th Grammy Award, this one as arranger), Joel Kibble, Dave Thomas, Alvin Chea and Khristian Dentley have been heralded by Quincy Jones as “the baddest vocal cats on the planet.”


Take 6 will come full circle with their upcoming honors at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, where McKnight formed the group as The Gentleman’s Estate Quartet in the 1980s. When tenor Mark Kibble heard the group rehearsing in a dorm bathroom, he joined in the harmonies and performed on stage that night. Their self-titled debut CD scored two 1988 Grammy Awards and landed in the top ten on the Billboard contemporary jazz and contemporary Christian charts. Take 6 has recently released ICONIC, an album of exquisite arrangements of contemporary favorites. In the nearly 40 years since their start, the group has set the standard for a cappella groups, and has never slowed down.


Irvine Barclay Theatre 2019-2020 Season sponsor: UCI Health

About Irvine Barclay Theatre

Since opening its doors in 1990, Irvine Barclay Theatre has emerged as one of California's most imaginative performing arts showcases. A unique collaborative venture among the City of Irvine, the University of California, Irvine, and the private sector, the theatre has a reputation for wide-ranging programming in the fields of contemporary dance, music, and theater arts. Performances take place in the 750-seat "jewel box" theatre which is renowned for its intimate atmosphere and superb acoustics. Visit to learn about our exciting new season!