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Oxford’s Jazzy Diva, Effie Burt, to Sing at The Shelter at Van Buren June 17


Original song written by Janine Ambrose to share with the world. Vocalists – Rick Wangsnness and Effie Burt. Filmed by Grand Junction Recording Studio

Oxford’s own Jazzy Diva, Effie Burt, will be performing tomorrow night, June 17, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. with band members John Latartara (guitarist), Ricky Burkhead (drummer), Maxx McClean (keyboardist) and Dave Woolworth (bassist) at The Shelter on Van Buren.

Effie Burt  (picture from jazzydiva.com)
Effie Burt
(picture from jazzydiva.com)

“I have performed at the Shelter on other occasions and always look forward to more performance at the Shelter,” said Effie Burt in an email. “I love singing at the Shelter because it’s a family atmosphere and also a great place where people can come out on an early evening to enjoy music.”

She recently met with the musicians to finalize a set list, and she will be singing John Lennon’s beloved song, “Imagine.”

Effie said, “I am performing, ‘Imagine’, by John Lennon as a special dedication, because at the end of the day, it would be the greatest thing if ‘We all could live as one’ at a time when the world is so divided and hate is flaring up all over the world, if this world could just come together and, ‘Be as one,’ and learn to love and not hate.”

These musicians are nothing to sneeze at. For example, guitarist John Latartara and drummer Ricky Burkhead are both University of Mississippi professors and both are members of Effie and The Jazz Tones, a band also including musicians David Woolworth and James McLeod.

Ricky Burkhead is the director of percussion studies at the University of Mississippi, and he has partnered with composer/musician Slade Lewis to create music for documentary films by Joe York. They also collaborated on music for a Micah Ginn film. Burkhead’s list includes The Hanging of Big Todd Wade, Mississippi Innocent project and Square Books 30th anniversary video.

Burkhead said that he met Effie in 2005 when she began singing in the Ole Miss Steel Drum Band that he founded in 1995.

Ole Miss alum David “Dave” Woolworth (Master of Arts in Physics, 2000) is the bassist for the Kudzu Kings and the principal acoustics consultant with Oxford Acoustics. This New Jersey native has been a performing musician since 1977. He was an member of the original bluegrass band for the Thacker Mountain Radio Show. His career in acoustics research is equally as impressive if more. According to Oxford Acoustics website: “David Woolworth is a member of the National Council of Acoustical Consultants, the Institute of Noise Control Engineering, and the Acoustical Society of America/Technical Committee on Architectural Acoustics…”

Keyboardist Maxx McClean is a music director in the Clarksdale School District, according to Effie Burt. She said, “I am very lucky to have all of them in the jazz band.”

John Latartara  (photo from http://music.olemiss.edu)
John Latartara
(photo from http://music.olemiss.edu)

Latartara, who is an associate professor in music theory, remembers meeting Effie Burt, the international singer who was a featured vocalist with the Cedar Falls/Waterloo Symphony Orchestra to being the headliner performer at the International Jazz Festival in Jamaica.

“I had seen Effie perform at a number of places around town. She sounded amazing and I wanted to meet her,” said Latartara in an email. “Finally, the incredible drummer Mr. Burkhead asked me to do a wedding gig with him and Effie was part of the band. That’s how we finally met and we’ve been playing together ever since.”

With a few years under their belt, Effie and The Jazz Tones enjoy the cozy music scene in Oxford. According to Effie, although the band has been together for years, all of the members of Jazz Tones also perform with other bands. She herself is a soloist in The Soul Tones’ Band which is a wedding band that she performs with Ricky Burkhead and James McLeod.

Latartara said, “Because of all the chords changes you have to negotiate and all of the rhythmic grooves you need to be able to play, it’s challenging music to master. I think that’s one reason there are only a handful of us who play jazz. You need to really dedicate yourself to practicing jazz for years to really get it down. If you see a jazz performance in Oxford, chances are it will be some combination of the handful of jazz musicians in town.”

With this background in mind, the atmosphere at The Shelter at Van Buren that night is sure to be cozy as the small circle of jazz musicians bring their incredible talents for all to enjoy this Father’s Day weekend in Oxford.


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