Tucson jazz singer Austin doing benefit for Black radio station | Music

Tucson jazz and R&B singer Ada Redd Austin is performing her biggest concert since the pandemic on Saturday, Sept. 10, at Dunbar Pavilion.

The “Paint the Town with Sound” concert is being presented by Tucson podcaster and entrepreneur Jennifer Davis-Paige as a benefit for the Phoenix-area independent jazz and blues radio station KRDP Jazz 90.7 FM, the state’s only Black-owned and operated radio station .

“I’m really looking forward to this concert,” said Davis-Paige, the CEO and founder of Boom Goddess Radio, which creates podcasts nationwide for women over 50.

Austin will perform a mix of jazz, R&B, pop and blues with her all-star band that includes her longtime keyboardist Doug Martin, saxophonist Michael Moynihan, Mike Levy on bass, Carl Cherry on drums and Steve Smith on guitar.

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“I love entertaining; that’s what I do,” said Austin, who has performed a few smaller gigs since the pandemic, including shows for the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance. “That’s my gift and I don’t get to use it as much as I would like to.”

Davis-Paige, who moved to Tucson from Chicago eight years ago after retiring from her executive position with Amtrak, met Austin two years ago when Austin was a guest on her Black History Month podcast.

Austin said she had never heard of KRDP before Davis-Paige invited her to headline the benefit concert. The hope, Davis-Paige said, is to one day get an FCC license to expand the station’s reach to Tucson.

KRDP was launched online in 2008 as Radio Phoenix until EVIT, a technical high school in Mesa, gifted the frequency to KRDP’s owners, Desert Soul Media Inc., in December 2021.

The station’s format is a mix of community news, jazz, blues and soul music, public affairs and specialty programming, including a show on travel and food every other Saturday with Davis-Paige, who also has a Boom Goddess Radio show at 3:30 pm Sundays on KXCI.

Austin said she would love to see the station find its way to Tucson’s airwaves. She also is hoping her concert on Saturday introduces her to new audiences and reacquaints her with old fans who haven’t seen her perform much since the pandemic.

A Tucson native, Austin, a retired Tucson school teacher, has been performing since the 1970s, but local gigs, especially since the pandemic, have been few and far between.

“Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, I played at St. Philip’s Plaza, Westward Look (Resort) and the jazz festival, but it’s dried up a lot,” she said, adding that her early resume also includes performances with the Barbea Williams Performing Company and musicals with the Black theater company Ododo Theater in the 1970s. “It’s hard to get gigs in Tucson.”

Her show Saturday, which starts at 7 pm at the Dunbar Pavilion, 325 W. Second St., will include a little bit of everything, she said, from country and rock to covers of jazz great Nancy Wilson to blues from Bonnie Raitt’s catalog and “Summertime” from “Porgy & Bess.” She’s also throwing in

some Anita Baker, original jazz and R&B and a little gospel, she said.

Tickets are $30 through brownpapertickets.com; VIP tickets are $250 through listen2kdrp.com.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at [email protected] On Twitter @Starburch

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