Sisters' swing set

Camelot Theatre Company's last Musical Spotlight of 2008 focuses on the feisty and talented female vocalists of the Big Band Era.

"Spotlight on The Girl Singers of The Big Band Era" stars the Rogue Valley's own Gayle Wilson and boasts a seven-piece band made up of the region's best players. All arrangements are by Rogue Valley jazz musician Dal Carver.

Throughout the '30s and '40s, these young "Girl Singers" traveled in a man's world as they graced the bandstands of Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington and the Dorsey Brothers, among others. Some of these singers, such as Ella Fitzgerald, had difficult childhoods and could have easily gone another way. Some were sensuous songbirds such as Marion Hutton, Helen Forrest, Kay Starr and Jo Stafford. And some were rebels, such as the notorious Billie Holiday, who couldn't keep a regular gig; Anita O'Day, who rejected the trademark gown in favor of a tuxedo jacket and skirt; and Dinah Washington, who carried not one gun, but two. Their stories are accompanied by 20 popular songs that include "It Don't Mean A Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing," "Green Eyes," "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" and "I Only Have Eyes For You."

Gayle Wilson learned many Big Band era jazz standards from her mother, a piano player in dance bands of the '30s,'40s and '50s.

"My mom came from a musical family," Wilson said. "In those days, all my aunts and uncles played in bands. As a kid growing up, we had the most fantastic music parties at our house!"

Wilson's music combos are a regular part of the Rogue Valley jazz scene. Her past Musical Spotlights covered Rosemary Clooney, Patti Page, The Andrews Sisters and Doris Day.

Dal Carver is the music director and arranger for "Girl Singers of the Big Band Era." No stranger to Camelot Music Spotlights, Carver has directed and arranged, as well as played keyboards, for several Spotlights, most recently, "Spotlight on Tony Bennett." Carver and his wife, Renee, are the Music Sponsors for Camelot Theatre. They own the popular restaurant and jazz club Avalon Bar and Grill in Talent and The Wild Goose Cafe in Ashland, also a popular music venue.

The "Girl Singers" 7-piece band features Michael Vannice (tenor sax and flute), Pat DeBellis (trumpet, flugelhorn), Daryl Fjeldheim (alto sax, clarinet and flute), Brent Olstad (piano), Brent Norton (guitar), Dave Miller (bass) and Steve Sutfin (drums).

David Gabriel is narrating the show. Camelot audiences will remember Mr. Gabriel as John Adams in "1776" and as The Baker in "Into the Woods." Most recently, he was Tony Bennett in Camelot's "Spotlight on Tony Bennett."

"Spotlight on The Girl Singers of the Big Band Era" previews at 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 13. It opens Friday, Nov. 14, and runs through Nov. 23. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $14 for the preview. All other regular performances are $18. Reserved seating is available for an additional $2 per ticket. Tickets are available online at, by phone at 535-5250 or in person at the theater box office from 1-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and one hour before performances.

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