One World Theatre and Kirk Whalum (News Article)

One World Theatre

Austin’s One World Theatre, a top-tier venue for musicians and music lovers is also one of the best kept secrets in the Live Music Capitol of the World.

Visitors flock to the narrow sidewalks of Sixth Street to hear live music gush through the shingles of bustling bars and rain on their eardrums. In contrast, ten miles away, One World sits on a sun bleached plateau in the Hill Country overlooking the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve.

The architecture of the Tuscan-style Villa, along with the breathtaking view bring new meaning to the word “syncopation” as the quality of this theater’s rhythm is more than a little unexpected.

One World is not just a concert hall. The tented Grand Piazza at the entrance of the building is the wedding site of choice for many brides-to-be. In fact, the Austin Chronicle named One World as “Austin’s Most Romantic Venue.” Indoors, Celebration Hall is another large space available for occasions ranging from corporate events to birthday parties.

In 1999, One World co-founders Hartt and Nada Stearns opened the 300-seat theater on the 9-acre property. One World was originally incorporated as a 501 (c)3 with a stated mission to educate and inspire others through arts and entertainment programs. As part of their ongoing multi-cultural arts-in-education outreach, they provide free show tickets to child and family community organizations and host a performing arts summer camp for local students. Pre-concert live entertainment is provided by local musicians, giving them exposure to a broader audience.

The Stearns are formally trained musicians who understand the needs of professional artists. Hartt, a percussionist, toured with an Argentine band for fourteen years. He believes that music is a universal language saying, “It doesn’t matter what country you come from, what color your skin is, or what religion you have, we’re all part of one world.”

One World is best known as a jazz venue but their calendar is much more diverse. This season’s lineup has included concerts by: pop guitarist Jose Feliciano, folk artist Leon Redbone, country songstress Suzy Bogguss and a capella gospel group Take 6. But jazz is listed first on the calling card of this Bee Caves gem. Upcoming concerts include jazz recording artists: guitarist Stanley Jordan, jazz fusion band Hiroshima, and Cuban jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval.

Their annual Christmas Concert this year is headlined by saxophonist KIRK WHALUM, along with LALAH HATHAWAY, KEVIN WHALUM, and GERALD ALBRIGHT.

The Grammy Winner has performed almost everywhere in his 30-year career but One World is among his favorites. In a telephone interview with soulciti, he said, “It is a singularly unique venue, not just in Texas, but in the country, because of the way that they value art and music…I have a special place in my heart for people who are about empowering people. They [the Stearns] serve an audience who is hungry to experience something off the beaten path.” He refers to his music as a ministry that is “more balm than barb wire.”

Whalum performed a sold-out Christmas concert at One World last year but he promises this year will be even better because of the chemistry he’s developed with the other artists through years of collaborating on projects. Listen to a sample of Whalum’s artistry and Hathaway’s vocals from the Gospel According to Jazz Chapter 3 on YouTube.

Originally published by December 2013

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