by MJ Grady
Laughter and jazz hold court this winter, as three remarkable women take turns raising the roof at Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. Singer Mandy Harvey (Jan. 19), comedienne Paula Poundstone (Jan. 26) and band leader Bria Skonberg (Feb. 8) couldn’t be more different in style or approach. But all three know how to reinvent traditionally male performance roles by being their spectacular selves.
A song, and a story, to remember
Mandy Harvey’s voice can soar. Her tender take on jazz and blues standards took her from Colorado clubs to national notoriety to three albums and counting. But Mandy’s stage appearance is all the more astonishing when you realize she overcame deafness to get there.
As a Colorado State University student, Mandy lost her hearing to a connective tissue disorder. Refusing to abandon her dream, Mandy learned American Sign Language, picked up her ukulele, and began working with her father. Using muscle memory, an innate sense of pitch and a monster work ethic, she began to write and perform. In 2017, her performance of her song “Try” wowed the studio audience and earned Simon Cowell’s coveted golden buzzer on America’s Got Talent. On tour, Mandy combines music with motivational speaking. On Jan. 19, she’ll share her story in an afternoon talk at YCPAC, and follow it that night with a concert to remember.
Comedy, Dry with a Twist
Dark times always pass. But until they do, you can count on Paula Poundstone to help you laugh at them. Fans of National Public Radio’s Wait! Wait … Don’t Tell Me! know that Paula’s dry, improvisational perspective can spin comedy from the bleakest of news cycles. It’s a one-of-a-kind world view that has made Paula a favorite on programs like The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
What people may not know is that Paula is multidimensional. She is a seasoned author whose second book, The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness is a heartfelt and funny look at personal fulfillment. Paula also hosts a podcast, Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone, which is a critically acclaimed “comedy field guide to life.”
And, of course, she is legendary in front of a live crowd. Her Jan. 26 performance means you’ll find a new perspective on a topic that’s comical, then thoughtful, then conversation for the drive home.
Your New Jazz Favorite
There are two types of people: those who already enjoy Bria Skonberg and those who soon will. “Bria Skonberg looks like a Scandinavian angel, plays trumpet like a red hot devil and sings like a dream,” the Wall Street Journal raves.
Music critic Bucky Pizzarelli agrees: “Bria radiates an energy that is so refreshing to see.”
Jazz fans have known the versatile Canadian for some time. A festival favorite, Bria’s blend of new work and cleverly revised classics has won fans from Montreal to Newport to New Orleans.
“I play jazz because it’s the closest I can get to flying,” Bria has said. She’s scheduled for takeoff Friday, Feb. 8. Join us!
All shows are at 7:30 p.m. at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center, 1100 E. Sheldon St., in Prescott. For tickets, call (928) 776-2000 or visit ycpac.com.