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Shirley Jones headlines ‘Divas Live!’ at Lincoln Park

Pittsburgh native and Academy Award winner Shirley Jones leads a dynamic group of female vocal performers in the second annual “Divas Live!” concert at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center.  A benefit concert for the Carnegie Library of Midland, “Divas Live!” will be staged Oct.16 at 7:30 p.m. in Lincoln Park’s mainstage theater. Tickets are $30. The Lincoln Park box office may be contacted at 724.643.9004. 

Local talents Kelley DeFade, Harriett Washington, Christiana Howell and Amber Nicole each will perform a selection of three songs in the first half of the concert, with Shirley Jones taking the stage after intermission.   Jones is to be accompanied by an eight-piece band led by her musical director, Ron Abel, on piano.Proceeds from the concert will provide materials for the Midland Carnegie Library and help with operations, said Library Director Linda Slopek. Last year the library’s budget was cut by the state.  

“We do a lot of fundraising; unfortunately this doesn’t cover everything,” said Janet Vuckovich, vice president of the Midland Library Board. She said concert proceeds “will help immensely.” Born in Smithton, Pa., Shirley Jones began her career in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway musical “South Pacific” and won the coveted role of Laurie in the film version of the musical “Oklahoma!”  Jones rose to stardom in her record-breaking run on Broadway in the musicals “Carousel,” “The Music Man,” and “April Love.” She won an Oscar for her role opposite Burt Lancaster in “Elmer Gantry,” but to many her role as mother to the TV Partridge Family is most enduring.Harriett Washington has been singing gospel songs in church since the age of 7. She sings regularly as a member of the choir and director of the Praise and Worship Team at the Mt. Calvary Chapel in Midland, and performs both as a member of those ensembles and as a solo artist for banquets, conferences and other gatherings.  

Christiana Howell, a music literature teacher at Lincoln Park, favors operatic singing. She graduated from Slippery Rock University two years ago with a degree in voice performance and music education.Kelly DeFade has been singing professionally for 18 years. This is the start of her fourth year teaching voice and an opera workshop at Lincoln Park. 

 Amber Nicole is a senior musical theater major at Lincoln Park with credits from numerous recent Lincoln Park productions. She portrayed Anna Leonowens in the musical “The King and I,” was Cassie in “A Chorus Line,” “South Pacific’s” Nelli Forbush in “Shall We Dance?” and danced as the Arabian Princess in “The Nutcracker.” 

Last spring Nicole and three fellow students won $5,000 savings bonds each when the music video they recorded won first place nationally in a car safety contest sponsored by the Ford Motor Co.

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