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Too Hot To Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah 
The rousing musical tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is back
In a previous presentation of Too Hot To Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah at the Auditorium Theatre, an impressive collection of diverse musicians and singers perform in honor of the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. 
   
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   WHEN the eighth annual performance of Too Hot To Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah is presented at the Auditorium Theatre on January 19 and January 20, it will again feature three of the country’s most amazing and acclaimed voices. Rodrick Dixon, Alfreda Burke and Karen Marie Richardson will join 200 of the most talented musicians and vocalists––under the direction of Bill Fraher and Suzanne Mallare Acton––to create a one-of-a-kind musical experience in this popular reinvention of Handel’s Messiah.
    The musical celebration to honor the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has become a family favorite and features a rhythmic, jazz-gospel interpretation of one of Handel’s most famous classical works. This rousing concert, which blends classical music with jazz, blues and gospel influences, features a full symphony orchestra, some famous Chicago jazz favorites and the citywide Too Hot Choir. 
    Handel’s extraordinary oratorio was composed in 1741 with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible. It was first performed in Dublin, Ireland, in 1742 and has become one of the most frequently performed choral works in Western music. The piece was first reimaged in 1993 when composers Bob Christianson and Gary Anderson presented the reinvented Messiah at Lincoln Center in New York. Since then the celebrated work has moved the souls of millions in major cities across the nation. 
    At the Chicago event, the exceptional collection of musicians will include talented individuals from different races, genders and backgrounds––a solid example of diversity that surely would please Dr. King, who for years talked about the importance of unity and inclusion. 

               RODRICK DIXON, TENOR
Rodrick Dixon is equipped with a voice that has such extraordinary range and versatility that many observers think he is one of the few performers who can meet the challenge of delivering the classical, jazz and gospel techniques that Too Hot To Handel requires. A former member of The Tenors: Cook, Dixon & Young, he has earned the respect of leading conductors, orchestras and opera companies throughout North America. His list of engagements includes work with The Lyric Opera of Chicago, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Opera, Portland Opera, Atlanta Symphony and a number of international and national festivals. He completed a national recital tour for Community Concerts with his wife, soprano Alfreda Burke, in 2001. Dixon earned his bachelor of arts degree and master’s of arts degrees from the Mannes College of Music in New York.
Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah will be presented at the Auditorium Theatre on January 19 at 7:30 p.m., and January 20 at 3 p.m. Ticket prices range from $74-$30. The box office is located at 50 E. Congress Pkwy. Groups of 10+ should call 312/341-2357. www.auditoriumtheatre.org.

              ALFREDA BURKE, SOPRANO
Alfreda Burke has appeared in concert throughout North America and Europe, with a voice that has been described as “voluptuous, creamy and luxuriant.” Among her most notable performances include those with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops Symphony Orchestra and the Prague Philharmonic. In addition to her work in recordings, music videos, television, radio, film and commercials, she has also performed in such historic venues as Carnegie Hall. Burke received Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from Roosevelt University. She is a former artist in residence at the University of California at Berkeley.
       KAREN MARIE RICHARDSON, ALTO
A singer, actor, dancer and songwriter, she made her Too Hot To Handel debut in 2010 at the Detroit Opera House. Additionally, her theatrical efforts include performances in Ragtime, The Musical at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook; Hairspray, The Musical at Fireside Theatre of Wisconsin; and Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook. In 2009, her distinct speaking voice was used to assist visually impaired voters during Chicago’s city elections. She’s currently working on a solo music project, with intentions to combine jazz, soul and pop music to create a new sound. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music theatre from Millikin University.