Carmel Jazz Fest Presents: Evelyn “Champagne” King
Singer-songwriter and record producer Evelyn “Champagne” King will be taking the stage on Saturday, August 12th, at Carmel Jazz Fest!
Throughout her career, she has notched up plenty of hits such as the big disco tune “Shame” from 1978, which is a perennial favorite on the dance floors of the world. Other big tracks of hers include the likes of “Love Come Down” and “I’m in Love,” and these often found their way to the top of the charts.
Back in 2008, her album “Open Book” was another big success. It came out on Big Day and Jaggo Records, and the lead single, “The Dance,” hit number 12 in the Billboard Chart and made a big mark on the dance scene.
As well as being a star on stage and in the studio, Evelyn “Champagne” King also does charity work, including the March of Dimes Fundraiser amongst other exploits. She is often featured on the cover of magazines and is a regular on top talk shows.
Don’t miss out on Evelyn “Champagne” King’s set and grab your Carmel Jazz Fest tickets at carmeljazzfest.org!
Janelle Morrison: I’m thrilled that you and your husband, Freddie Fox, are coming to the inaugural Carmel Jazz Fest this August!
Evelyn “Champagne” King: We’re excited because it’s me and my husband, together, on the same show, and it’s going to be fun!
JM: In addition to getting people back together to enjoy music, I believe it’s important to engage the younger generations and teach them why the history of jazz and R&B is so important to not only the nation’s history but to Indiana’s as well. It’s also important that we connect with the youth through the arts.
EK: That’s exactly true. We all know that music is good for the soul, and it’s very educational. It is important for the youth to know what real music is and what it has brought to us. It keeps us grounded. I was brought up with music. My dad was a stand-in tenor singer for The Harptones, and he played guitar. And my uncle Avon Long was from [Broadway’s] “Bubbling Brown Sugar.” So, music was instilled in me and my whole family. It was “King Amateur Hour” all the time.
I always wanted to be a singer, dancer, DJ, actress — all of that. I enjoy what I do, and the kids, I mean sometimes they need to have it [music] come back into the home, but we need to bring it to them. They need to know what real music is and what real songs are about. Jazz, R&B, rock, pop … it all started way before me, and I grew up listening to the music of [John] Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan … just a lot of singers and even just instrumentals so I could learn what music is all about.
The world is so divided right now, and everything is chaotic. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen actually. And looking at it through a child’s eyes, you can imagine what they’re feeling. We’ve got to pay attention. The kids are looking for guidance, and we’re trying to do that as artists. We play a lot of roles, actually. When fans are talking to us, we have to listen, and when we put out a song, we need to make sure that it’s about something they’ve experienced and that we’re bringing people together instead of dividing them.
I just pray for a better tomorrow, and all we can do, like I said, we can lend our voices; we can lend our talent, but we have to hear it from other people, and we have to talk about it.
JM: Music has a way of creating a sense of hope that can get you through a rough day because tomorrow might be a heck of a lot better.
EK: Nothing’s promised, but you’re right … it can be better. We need to come together, and that’s what we did “back in the day.” It might have been a little crazy, and they kept saying everything was “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll,” when I came out in the music business. But it was not all like that. I didn’t do any drugs, and there was no sex going on because my father made sure of that. [Laughter] I could barely have a boyfriend, and when I did, I was always monitored — I had brothers! Back in the day, the things we did made it fun, and we need to come together now on a more spiritual level, where everybody can believe in each other instead of going against what we believe.
JM: What a blessing to have you and Freddie come to Carmel to perform your own unique styles.
EK: It’s going to be so much fun — what we’ll be bringing to the stage on each end. I sing for him, and he plays for me. He’s my music director as well as road manager when I go out [on tour]. He’s also my music director when I’m with my band. Something that’s different is he performs smooth jazz and I do R&B, disco and dance, and it kind of freaks people out [when forming together] because people are like, “Wow, I didn’t realize that could still happen today.” Yeah — it does, but you got to make it happen! We’ve been married 32 years and I learn from him, and he learns from me.
We continue to do what we love. I am totally blessed having started off in the ’70s and still going. I have not stopped working. I’m grateful that I’m still here to do it — and God gave me this gift, so I’m going to use it.