The International Sounds of
Songstress Eboni Fondren
I have watched audiences fall in love with vocalist Eboni Fondren. And, I must admit, I fell for her the first time I met her. For several years, Everette DeVan hosted a sort of annual late-night loft party jam session.
If you remember Everette, you may remember a cavalcade of sweet voiced young vocalists that he mentored. Many of those vocalists have become fixtures of the Kansas City music scene, and Eboni was a stand-out from day one.
She has a way of taking the lowest of low down blues and singing it in a way that makes you think:
“That’s so nice,” you may think, “she mustn’t have any idea what that song really means.”
It’s a certain sort of naivete. It seems to be Pure Eboni. A striking woman, delivering the melody and lyric in a straight-forward and aloof manner that says to us:
“This is not about me, it’s about you, so leave me out of it, long enough for you to catch my drift.”
There have been successful international music exchanges emanating from Kansas City.
Some of them are improvisational, like the world travel of KC trumpeter Hermon Mehari, or the life on the road in the Schnebelen clan, or the travels of Parsons, Kansas trumpeter, Buck Clayton, who is said to have turned 24 years old in Shanghai, while leading his own orchestra in residence.
Pat Metheny carries on his own unique brand of international music exchange. By writing songs like, Unity Village, Country Poem, (Cross The) Heartland, Missouri Uncompromised, and Omaha Celebration, then—performing them live for millions of people through the decades, during grueling year-long world tours.
Even Everette DeVan, pianists Frank Smith, and Rich Hill, did long self-booked stints in Southeast Asia, and The United States State Department sent Joe Cartwright, Angela Hagenbach, and bassist Steve Rigazzi on a worldwide tour around the turn of the century.
The list goes on as the support gets broader.
This past January, Aryana Nemati, Amber Underwood, Paula Saunders and Angela Ward traveled to Fruillar, Chile, to be featured in the Semanas Musicales. The trip was organized with the support of the US Embassy. As a reciprocal engagement, fusion guitarist Italo Aguilera will be traveling to Kansas City from Chile on October 13th. He'll performing for us at Corvino that evening with The James Ward Band. Mr. Aguilera will conduct a workshop for students at Kansas City Kansas Community College on October 17th, and he'll participate in the Show and Shed workshop on October 21st at the Gem Theater at 18th and Vine.
Eboni Fondren – jazz vocalist extraordinaire – has recently returned from participating in an amazing choir and concert. It was a part of the Culture Working Group of the recent G20 Summit – in Varanasi, India.
The Culture Ministers’ Meeting in Varanasi aimed to catalyze collective actions for accelerating progress on the four priority areas articulated by the Indian Presidency- Protection and Restitution of Cultural Property, Harnessing Living Heritage for a Sustainable Future, Promotion of Cultural and Creative Industries and Creative Economy, and Leveraging Digital Technologies for the Protection and Promotion of Culture.
In 2020, under the Saudi Arabian Presidency, the Culture Ministers’ met for the first time on the side-lines of the G20.
In 2021, Culture was formalized as a Working Group during the Italian Presidency, leading to the inaugural G20 Culture Ministers’ Meeting and the consequential 'Rome Culture Ministers' Declaration’.
The 'Bali Declaration' of 2022 under the Indonesian presidency further stressed the role of culture in sustainable development. In Varanasi, this would be the fourth time that the Culture Ministers of the G20 members and invitee countries would be meeting.
Eboni is a 21st century songstress. She goes for what she wants. It is fun to see a film at an AMC Theater and hear your friend giving the particulars. Eboni has built her career into a multi-faceted industry. She considers herself an entrepreneur. On a recent Sunday morning we spoke about her wedding and event band, Lost Wax, her work onstage and in the studio with the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra. We touched on her voiceover and film work and her desire to be and do so much more.
Eboni Fondren has recently recorded a high-quality LP with the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, available at www.kcjo.org and she is now collecting material to record a live recording of jazz standards at Uptown Lounge, where Eboni hold a regularly scheduled jazz jam session on Tuesday evening.
The sky is the limit for Eboni Fondren.