American Jazz Icon Dee Dee Bridgewater to Perform at Vatican ‘Refugee’ Concert

PARIS, FRANCE - APRIL 30: Dee Dee Bridgewater and Ben Williams perform on stage during the International Jazz Day 2015 Global Concert at UNESCO on April 30, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Kristy Sparow/Getty Images for Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz)
Kristy Sparow/Getty Images for Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz

American jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater will play next month at the annual Vatican Christmas concert with the leitmotiv of “Refugees.”

Bridgewater, who has won three Grammys and a Tony for her work in jazz vocals and musical theater, will play at the concert in the Vatican’s in Paul VI Hall on December 15.

An international jazz icon since the late 1960s, Bridgewater famously toured the Soviet Union in 1969 with the University of Illinois Jazz Band while a student at the university.

Flanked by artists such as José Feliciano, Anastacia, and Gheorghe Zamfir, Ms. Bridgewater will play for free at the benefit concert whose proceeds will go toward organizations that work with refugees, namely the “Don Bosco Mission,” which works for the improvement of conditions for refugees in Uganda, and the “Scholas Ocurrentes Project,” which provides education opportunities for refugees in Erbil, Iraq.

In its fourth international congress this past summer, Scholas brought together representatives from 71 universities from 30 nations in the Vatican property of Castel Gandolfo to discuss the issue of migrants and refugees.

The Vatican has been holding its yearly Christmas concert at the Paul VI Audience Hall since 1993, playing host to a wide range of Italian and international music artists.

In 2003, the concert was interrupted by soul artist Lauryn Hill, who seized the opportunity to lecture the prelates present on the issue of clerical sex abuse.

“I am sorry if I am about to offend some of you,” Hill told the 7,000 guests at the concert. “I did not accept my invitation to celebrate with you the birth of Christ. Instead I ask you why you are not in mourning for him in this place?”

“I want to ask you, what have you got to say about the lives you have broken?” she said. “What about the families who were expecting God and instead were cheated by the Devil?”

“Holy God is a witness to the corruption of your leadership, of the exploitation and abuses which are the minimum that can be said for the clergy. There is no acceptable excuse to defend the church,” she said.

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