Atlanta Jazz Festival provides ‘soundtrack to beautiful summer memories’

Atlanta’s Brenda Nicole Moorer has a special connection to the Memorial Day weekend fest.
Vocalist Brenda Nicole Moorer will perform in Piedmont Park as part of the 2023 Atlanta Jazz Festival. Photo: Rhett Huffman

Credit: Rhett Huffman

Credit: Rhett Huffman

Vocalist Brenda Nicole Moorer will perform in Piedmont Park as part of the 2023 Atlanta Jazz Festival. Photo: Rhett Huffman

Like many local residents, jazz vocalist and actress Brenda Nicole Moorer wasn’t born in Atlanta, but she’s about as Atlanta as it gets.

“Atlanta will forever be my artistic home because Atlanta has artistically raised me,” she said. “I am fed and inspired by all the work of all the artists I’m surrounded by, and I have never seen a city where the artists support each other as much as we do here.”

That spirit of camaraderie can be seen on the stage at the annual Atlanta Jazz Festival this weekend, where Moorer will be making her fifth appearance at the fest.

The festival has a special place in Moorer’s heart. “I’ve been attending the Atlanta jazz festival for many years and the one thing that strikes me every time, aside from the incredible music, is watching the community bond and create memories. I hope that my performance and my music this year is able to connect with people and be the soundtrack to beautiful summer memories made with loved ones. And I hope that someone listening hears my words and finds joy and hope.”

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Moorer moved to Atlanta as a preteen and attended the DeKalb School of the Arts, studying voice and acting. She’s been performing professionally since age 16 and has released three albums, including 2020′s “Marrow.”

“Marrow,” co-written with guitarist Trevor Wolford and pianist Kenny Banks Jr., has garnered comparisons to Minnie Riperton, Joni Mitchell and Corinne Bailey Rae. The record was produced by London-based Troy Miller, who has worked with a long list of impressive talent from Amy Winehouse and Laura Mvula to Gregory Porter and Diana Ross.

Speaking of Riperton, one of the tracks on “Marrow” is a cover of “Take a Little Trip,” a Stevie Wonder-penned song from Riperton’s 1974 album “Perfect Angel.” “The number is a breezy ride, with Brenda’s voice absolutely captivating,” the website Soul Tracks said. “It is a difficult song to cover, but she does it beautifully and honors the original version while also making it her own.”

Brenda Nicole Moorer (from left) stars as Brenda Franklin, Hailey Kilgore as Carolyn Franklin, Saycon Sengbloh as Erma Franklin and Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in "Respect," shot in metro Atlanta. Photo credit: Quantrell D. Colbert

Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert

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Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert

Her music career has led her into film and TV, with appearances in the Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect,” which starred Jennifer Hudson, and the ABC show “Queens.”

Moorer sees it as just another form of expression. “I’ve recently adopted a saying that I think holds true, and that is: a creative creates no matter the medium,” she said. “These art forms are extensions of each other and at its core it’s about connecting with people and telling stories, being human.

“I absolutely love working in film, delving into characters and the psychology behind it, but I also love figuring out what a particular sound means to me, and what feeling it evokes, and how I can use words and melody to paint pictures,” Moorer adds. “I think I get the same enjoyment from both and truly I feel blessed to have been able to make a living doing these art forms.”

Atlanta has been an inspiration to Moorer, through all of the local music scene’s ups and downs. “I’ve been part of the Atlanta music community for 20 years and I’ve seen it change, grow, and evolve. I’ve seen venues open and close, artists come up and others decide to lay their art to rest, but through it all I’ve seen the resilient spirit that we have in Atlanta as artists to thrive and be sustainable.”

When she takes the stage at the Atlanta Jazz Festival on Monday, the admiration is sure to be flowing both ways. “This show is perfect timing also because at this point in my career, I’m preparing to record my fourth album, and this is such a testament to how much Atlanta has loved me and cheered me on, developing me as an artist.”


Brenda Moorer at the Atlanta Jazz Festival

5 p.m. Monday, May 29. Free. Piedmont Park, 400 Park Drive NE, Atlanta.