Lady Zen presents a tribute to jazz great, Bessie Smith

The Jazz Foundation, in collaboration with Incanto Vallarta, is excited to welcome back Lady Zen, an internationally known, award-winning lyric fusion poet and vocalist/jazz singer. Lady Zen will present 2 shows celebrating the life and music of jazz great, Bessie Smith, on Saturday, June 23rd at 6 pm and 10 pm.

As both a poet and a singer, Lady Zen possesses the powerful voice of a mezzo-soprano and the excitement of a brilliant storyteller. She will perform a thrilling, engaging tribute to Bessie Smith that you won’t want to miss! Accompanied by a live jazz band, Lady Zen channels the music of this jazz great!

“Bessie Smith (April 15, 1894 – September 26, 1937) was an American blues singer. Nicknamed the Empress of the Blues, she was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s. She is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era and was a major influence on other jazz singers.

Working a heavy theater schedule during the winter and performing in tent shows the rest of the year (eventually traveling in her own railroad car), Smith became the highest-paid black entertainer of her day. Columbia Records nicknamed her “Queen of the Blues,” but the press soon upgraded her title to “Empress of the Blues”. Smith’s music stressed independence, fearlessness, and sexual freedom, implicitly arguing that working-class women did not have to alter their behavior in order to be worthy of respect.

Smith had a strong contralto voice, which recorded well from her first session, which was conducted when recordings were made acoustically. With the advent of electrical recording (her first electrical recording was “Cake Walking Babies”, recorded on May 5, 1925, the sheer power of her voice was even more evident.

Besse was also able to benefit from the new technology of radio broadcasting, even on stations in the segregated South. For example, after giving a concert for a white-only audience at a theater in Memphis, Tennessee, in October 1923, she then performed a late-night concert on station WMC, which was well received by the radio audience.

Bessie Smith made 160 recordings for Columbia, often accompanied by the finest musicians of the day, notably Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, Fletcher Henderson, James P. Johnson, Joe Smith and Charlie Green.” (Wikipedia)

Lady Zen is a worthy interpreter of this incredible jazz singer. Not only is her voice truly breathtaking, she is a fantastic communicator and an engaging artist.

Currently living in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Lady Zen has been performing for nearly 20 years in both large and intimate venues around the world. She was also awarded a J. William Fulbright Scholarship in Opera Performance through the University of Arkansas, a Community Service/Social Justice award through the University of Southern Maine and a Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing in 2014.

This is a wonderful opportunity to experience a first class show during the summer season. Lady Zen will be back in the Fall, but if you are in Puerto Vallarta right now, you don’t have to wait to experience this superb performer!

For tickets and information go to or call 322 113 0295. The Jazz Foundation is located across from the Malecon in PV and is one of Vallarta’s newest outstanding venues.

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