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A Must See

Christmas with Nova Y. Payton & Friends At Signature Theatre

This is the time of year when holiday concerts abound and music lovers have a cornucopia of confections from which to pick and choose. From choral concerts and chamber orchestras to school recitals and Christmas pageants, your cup can understandably run over with holiday music. If you’re in Washington, DC, scouting your local events blogs for one of these holiday delights, look no further than a jazz cabaret with diva Nova Y. Payton at the Signature Theatre.

“Christmas With Nova Y. Payton and Friends,” which opened December 8, is filled with some of Payton’s holiday favorites, including “This Christmas,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Santa Baby,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” and many more. Music director Darius Smith, along with a chorus and band, join Payton during the evening.

Payton is known for her powerhouse voice. For years, she sang backup for legendary songstress Roberta Flack, joining Flack’s international tour to over 150 major cities across the U.S, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and Europe. She also has toured with shows such as the blues-to-classical showcase Three Mo’ Divas with Laurice Lanier and Jamet Pittman as well as Smokey Joe’s Café, the juke joint-set musical revue of the songs of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

Payton made her Signature Theatre debut as “Motormouth Maybelle” in Hairspray for which she won a 2012 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Resident Musical. She also received the 2005 Barrymore Nomination for Best Actress for her role as “Effie White” in Dreamgirls at Prince Music Theatre. Payton recently reprised her role in the Milwaukee Repertory Theater production of the musical. The DC native also has appeared in regional productions of The Happy Elf, and Ain’t Misbehavin’.

Payton’s musical chops are clearly genetic as her mother is singer Thomascena Nelson, widely considered to be the “First Lady of Gospel Jazz.” According to Payton’s biography, it was Nelson who exposed Payton to “all things creative and artistic.”

Payton’s cabaret runs through December 24 and tickets can be purchased here.

Nova Y. Payton singing “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”


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