Campus & Community

Versatile vocalist Mahogany headlines benefit at Sanders

3 min read

ocal fans of jazz and blues will soon have a chance to hear some of the most talented and admired performers in those genres and to help the homeless as well.

The ninth annual benefit concert for the Cambridge Housing Assistance Fund will take place in Sanders Theatre at 8 p.m. Sept. 28, featuring vocalists Kevin Mahogany and Kathy Kosins and veteran tenor saxophonist Red Holloway.

The Cambridge Housing Assistance Fund (CHAF) is a nonprofit organization committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness in the Cambridge community. Sponsored by Harvard University and a group of local banks, realtors, and other businesses, CHAF raises funds to assist the homeless and near-homeless with initial apartment rental costs such as first month’s rent, last month’s rent, or security deposit.

According to David Pap, volunteer director of CHAF, the organization hopes to raise $175,000 this year to help 200 families obtain housing. Pap points out that the average amount needed to keep one family from becoming homeless is $670. Once they become homeless, however, it costs approximately $37,000 to keep them in the state shelter system.

Mahogany, the concert’s headliner, sang at CHAF’s benefit concert in 2001. Since then, his performances and recordings have brought him even greater renown as a unique and versatile vocalist. Newsweek has described him as “the standout jazz vocalist of his generation.” The Los Angeles Times called Mahogany “one of the first truly gifted male vocalists to emerge in years.” And the dean of jazz critics, Whitney Balliet of the New Yorker, wrote, “There is little Mahogany cannot do.”

With a powerful baritone voice that has been compared to that of Johnny Hartman and other great big-band singers of the past, Mahogany is equally at home singing standards by Kern, Berlin, and Gershwin as he is with bebop or Motown. What will be unusual about the Sept. 28 performance is that the singer has agreed to sing requests from the audience.

Also sharing the bill will be Kathy Kosins and Red Holloway. Kosins, a native of Detroit who fell into jazz singing when a friend asked her to demo a jazz tune. Her third CD has been released on Mahogany’s own music label.

Born in 1927, Holloway has played with musicians from jazz greats like Lester Young, Sonny Rollins, and Billie Holiday, to blues singers Willie Dixon, Roosevelt Sykes, and B.B. King, to pop and rock performers Chuck Berry, John Mayall, and Aretha Franklin.