Patti LaBelle Returns to the Kauffman Center on March 17

Patti LaBelle

Friday, March 17 | 8:00 PM

Muriel Kauffman Theatre

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The Kauffman Center for Performing Arts is proud to welcome GRAMMY award winning vocalist Patti LaBelle for a night of soulful music in Muriel Kauffman Theatre on Friday, March 17. LaBelle last performed at the Kauffman Center in July 2015.

LaBelle is an accomplished singer, best known for songs such as “Lady Marmalade,” “When You Talk About Love,” and “New Attitude,” among others.

Photp Credit: Derek Blanks

Patti LaBelle began her singing career in 1959 as a member of the musical group the Bluebelles and later, Labelle. She shot to solo fame with the release of her highly acclaimed album, I’m In Love Again in 1981. In the years to follow, LaBelle would take home two GRAMMY awards, the first Burnin’ and the second Live! One Night Only.

Today, LaBelle is both a performer and an entrepreneur. In 2004 she was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame, and has gone on to star on Broadway and on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” LaBelle continues to tour the country, and has written five cookbooks as well as recently developed a line of home goods.

Tickets for the show range from $49 to $129. Tickets are available online here, or by calling the Kauffman Center Box Office at (816) 994-7222.

Here’s LaBelle performing her hit “Lady Marmalade” as part of PBS’s “Women of Soul: In Performance at the White House” in 2014:

Patti LaBelle photo by Derek Blanks

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Charlie Hamilton James Engages Kansas City Youth in a Discussion about Conservation, Kindness, and Photography


The Kauffman Center’s 2017 National Geographic Live series is off to a great start! Besides boasting a sold-out theater for the evening lecture of I Bought a Rainforest, the Kauffman Center hosted more than 2,000 Kansas City students for two of Charlie Hamilton James’s matinee performances.

The award-winning conservation photojournalist took to the stage with only stories to tell, photos to share, and a mission to show his audience that caring more makes the world a better place. James recounted his misadventures to an enraptured audience that squealed with wonder every time the captivating picture on the screen changed. Featuring photos of bloodied vultures in Tanzania, playful otters in Yellowstone National Park, and the local people of Peru’s Manu National Park, James kept his young audience intrigued throughout the presentation. His sense of humor and British accent only added to the lecture.

“The stories and photos were spectacular, and Charlie was funny, very personable, and we just enjoyed it so much. When it was over I only wanted more!” gushed a very happy parent. “We are wildlife enthusiasts and photographers in our own backyard, and now we want to travel the world.”

The vultures and the otters were overwhelmingly popular with the young audience, and a number of James’s photos can be viewed here.

However, the human factor of the lecture seemed to hit home with everyone at the performance. James takes photos of amazing things, different cultures, and bizarre realities, but for him, “It’s how similar we all are that really interests me.”


The underlying message of conservation and cultural awareness was shared with the most appropriate and promising of audiences. James’s feelings about compassion and understanding resonated with many of the students in attendance.

“She was intrigued by the speaker’s story,” added a chaperone observing her student. “ It gave us a chance to discuss the idea of empathy and being able to appreciate differing opinions, and still holding onto your own deeply held convictions. She was fascinated. Mr. James gave her lots to think about!”

The Kauffman Center hopes that students left feeling empowered and, perhaps, eager to discover more about the natural world around them.

An accompanying teacher recalled, “One of my students said as she exited, ‘That was fantastic. If I didn’t already want to be a Nat Geo photographer, then that speaker just solidified it for me.  Bring on lice, I’ll shave my hair.  Malaria, I’ll medicate. Cold weather, I’ll survive.’  That blew my mind!”

The National Geographic Live series at the Kauffman Center will feature monthly lectures from various professionals associated with the acclaimed magazine. Matinees like the ones featuring Charlie Hamilton James are available to students of the Kansas City area through the Open Doors program; the program provides schools and youth in the area with access to high-quality arts and performances.


In expressing the impact these experiences have, an audience member from James’s lecture said, “The Open Doors Community Ticket program has expanded my children’s understanding of many important topics, giving them an experience not found in books or other materials. They are the highlight of our week (often highlight of the month), and we truly appreciate the opportunity.”

The next available matinee for the National Geographic Live series will be on April 4th when the Kauffman Center hosts Anand Varma, a photographer who specializes in the miniature world all around us. There are still plenty of seats available! Varma’s Beauty and the Bizarre will surely encourage students to find wonder in the seemingly-weird.

More information on the Open Doors program can be found here.

Photo Credit: Jillian Shoptaw

Ladysmith Black Mambazo to Perform Today at the Kauffman Center

The Kauffman Center of the Performing Arts is proud to host Ladysmith Black Mambazo for a high energy night of music on Wednesday, February 8. More information and tickets are available here.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a premiere Grammy award winning a cappella group, hailing from South Africa. Over the past 50 years, the group has toured all over the world, captivating audiences with the intricate rhythms and harmonies derived from their native South African musical tradition.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

The group was first assembled in the early 1960s by Joseph Shambalala, a young farmer turned factory worker who gave the group its unique name. Ladysmith is the name of Joseph’s hometown; Black is a reference to the oxen, the strongest of all farm animals, and Mambazo is the Zulu word for chopping axe, a symbol for the group’s ability to “chop down” any singing rival who might challenge them.

The group borrows heavily from a traditional music called isicathamiya (is-cot-a-ME-Ya), which developed in the mines of South Africa. Poorly housed and paid worse, the mine workers would entertain themselves after a six-day week by singing songs into the wee hours of the morning. When the miners returned to the homelands, this musical tradition returned with them.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s latest tour features songs from their newest Grammy nominated album, Walking in the Footsteps of Our Fathers, as well as many classic favorites.

Below, watch Ladysmith Black Mambazo perform their song “Homeless” at the KEXP studios in Seattle.

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Art Garfunkel: In Close-Up

Art Garfunkel: In Close-Up

Saturday, March 4th | 8:00 PM

Helzberg Hall

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Art Garfunkel

Art Garfunkel began his ascent into the music community at the age of four. His father bought him one of the first wire recorders, allowing him to finally preserve and share the songs he sang.

Seven years later, Art partnered up with Paul Simon (a friend from his neighborhood in Queens, NY) to deliver a rendition of an Everly Brothers song at a school talent show. Though the two sang together throughout high school (even appearing on American Bandstand their senior year), they parted ways when Art chose to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree at Columbia. The two met back up again in 1962 and decided to form a duo, right before the folk music boom peaked in 1963. Within a year, they were signed to Columbia Records and on their way to becoming the icons we know and love today.

As a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, six-time GRAMMY award winner, actor, and writer, Garfunkel has made his mark in the history books as one of the most influential artists of our time. Simon & Garfunkel are best known for their hits like “The Sound Of Silence,” “Mrs. Robinson,” “I Only Have Eyes for You,” and “America.” Garfunkel the solo artist is known for his vulnerable performances and ability to make personal connections with the audience.

Decades after recording “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” he continues to bring some of the best music in folk, rock and pop. Art Garfunkel released his 12th solo album, Some Enchanted Evening in 2007 following a Simon & Garfunkel worldwide reunion tour in 2004.

This 2015 live interview with Art Garfunkel gives insight into the man behind the music, touching on his love for literature, the revival of his singing career, and his role in the film Catch 22:

Aside from his artistic achievements, Art has found comfort and solace in walking. He has crossed the United States and Japan on foot, and is currently working on tackling Europe one country at a time. He is also an avid reader, and has chronicled every book he’s read since June 1968 on his website – 1,227 in all.

Join us on March 4th for an evening of lyrical melodies and poetic storytelling from this musical giant that will uplift and soothe your spirit.

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Black Violin Delivers Dancing, Genre-Fusion, and Empowering Message to KC Students

On November 17th, the Kauffman Center hosted Black Violin for a student matinee in Muriel Kauffman Theatre. With approximately 1,500 students from 26 schools, the Kauffman Center filled the theatre with an equal mix of classical and hip-hop enthusiasm! The show had all ages up on their feet, from  kindergarteners to seniors in high school. Even better, the Kauffman Center was able to bring in students from all across the KC metro area for this exciting and inspiring performance.

Named one of the hottest bands at South by Southwest, Black Violin has opened for such diverse names in music as Kanye West, 50 Cent, Aerosmith, and Tom Petty. Black Violin has creatively collaborated with the likes of Wu-Tang Clan, Linkin Park, Wyclef Jean and Alicia Keys.

The duo’s UNITY tour “encourages people of all ages, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds to find what connects us, rather than shine a light on what divides us”. Black Violin has played in front of nearly 100,000 students this past year alone, encouraging young people to rise above labels and embrace their identity. At one point in the show, they encourage the audience to make their interests and hobbies cool, even if they  are not ‘traditionally cool’ interests (such as playing an instrument). With such an empowering message, the Kauffman Center hopes that the students left with more than just an awesome beat stuck in their head.

If you can’t tell from this photo, the kids had a great time and truly embraced the spirit of the performance. We think the teachers may have had just as much fun as the kids!



These student matinees are made possible by our Open Doors program, which is just one way the Kauffman Center provides access to high quality arts programs for youth throughout the metropolitan area. Through the Open Doors Transportation Fund and the Open Doors Community Tickets program, the Kauffman Center is continuing to impact the lives of Kanas City  youth. Those interested in learning more about the Open Doors program or making a donation can click here.

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