JaM Cellars Presents Pink Martini
December 8 @ 8:00 pm
December 8, 2023
In 1994, in his hometown of Portland, Oregon, Thomas Lauderdale was working in politics, thinking he would run for mayor one day. Like other eager politicians-in-training, he went to every political fundraiser under the sun… but was dismayed to find the music at these events underwhelming, lackluster, loud, and un-neighborly. Drawing inspiration from music from all over the world—crossing genres of classical, jazz and old-fashioned pop—and hoping to appeal to conservatives and liberals alike, he founded the “little orchestra” Pink Martini in 1994. His aim? To provide more beautiful and inclusive musical soundtracks for political fundraisers supporting causes such as civil rights, affordable housing, the environment, libraries, public broadcasting, education, and parks.
One year later, Lauderdale called China Forbes, a Harvard classmate living in New York City, and asked her to join Pink Martini. They began to write songs together. Their first, “Sympathique,” was an overnight sensation in France and nominated for Song of the Year at the Victoires de la Musique Awards. To this day, it remains a mantra for striking workers: “Je ne veux pas travailler (I don’t want to work)”.
Pink Martini has sold well over 3 million albums worldwide on their own independent label Heinz Records (named after Lauderdale’s dog). In 2016, Pink Martini released its ninth studio album, Je dis oui!, which features vocals from China Forbes, Storm Large, Ari Shapiro, fashion guru Ikram Goldman, civil rights activist Kathleen Saadat, and Rufus Wainwright. The album’s 15 tracks span eight languages (French, Farsi, Armenian, Portuguese, Arabic, Turkish, Xhosa and English), and affirm the band’s history of global inclusivity and collaborative spirit. In 2019, Pink Martini collaborated on a new release with the international singing sensation Meow Meow, entitled Hotel Amour, and also released two 5-song EPs, Besame Mucho, featuring regular guest singer Edna Vazquez, and Tomorrow, featuring regular guest singer Jimmie Herrod, a finalist on 2021’s season of NBC’s America’s Got Talent. During their pandemic hiatus, the band released two new digital singles written by Thomas Lauderdale, China Forbes, and producer Jim Bianco, “Let’s Be Friends,” and “The Lemonade Song,” which has over 10 million streams on Spotify alone.
Featuring more than a dozen musicians, Pink Martini performs its multilingual repertoire throughout the world. Says Lauderdale, “We’re very much an American band, but we spend a lot of time abroad and therefore have the incredible diplomatic opportunity to represent a broader, more inclusive America… the America which remains the most heterogeneously populated country in the world… composed of people of every country, every language, every religion.”
The band made its European debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 and its orchestral debut with the Oregon Symphony the following year. Since then, Pink Martini has played with more than 50 orchestras internationally, including Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Pops, National Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, and the BBC Concert Orchestra at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Other appearances include a performance at the official post-Oscars celebration Governors Ball, four sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall, the opening party of the remodeled Museum of Modern Art in New York, multiple sellouts and a festival opening at Montreal Jazz Festival, and multiple appearances, including sellouts, at the Hollywood Ball and Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. In its 20th year, Pink Martini was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame and the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. In 2023, the band is celebrating its 29th year of performing.