Kristine Key returns to the Oakland Mills jazz series after a performance there three years go.
Kristine Key returns to the Oakland Mills jazz series after a performance there three years go. (submitted photo)

A jazzy way to foster the cultural life of the Oakland Mills Village Center, the "Jazz in the Mills" series has been attracting jazz fans there since 2008.

Presented by the Oakland Mills Community Association at the Other Barn, the next concert in the series is Sunday, Aug. 30, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The featured performer is vocalist Kristine Key.

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"This series goes back to the first phase of the Oakland Mills Village looking to see what we could do with music and the arts within the loft of a renovated barn," said Sandy Cederbaum, village manager of Oakland Mills.

This venue has a capacity of 220 people, making it an intimate acoustical space for the jazz fans who come there from throughout the region.

The concerts themselves are coordinated by jazz singer and local resident Lavenia Nesmith. Performers include some like Key who have been there before and developed a following.

Key has shared the stage with such talents as Nancy Wilson and Branford Marsalis. In Boston, she was nominated for Outstanding Jazz Vocalist-Boston Music Awards.

Now residing in the Baltimore/Washington area, she has delighted audiences with her performances at Jazz Night in Southwest at Westminster Church; Robyn's Place, WPFW, 89.3 FM; The Mandarin Oriental Hotel; the theatrical production, Sista's Can Sa-a-ng; Jazz at Club Paradise, www.radiofairfax.com; and The National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Key began her performing career at age 10 when she sang "O Holy Night" for her elementary school's Christmas program. In high school she began voice lessons and in subsequent years she continued her vocal/musical studies in private instruction and at the Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory.

This year Ms. Key released her debut CD, "Nice…as can be."

Oakland Mills typically has three concerts every year, as well as a fourth, year-end program that is holiday-themed and has a light fare buffet.

"As musical genres go, jazz tends to draw an older crowd that grew up with the music," Cederbaum observed. "They will follow the performers around. And that's why Kristine Keys is returning since she was last here three years ago. She has a great reputation and a beautiful voice."

If jazz tends to draw a mature crowd, another regular entertainment offering in the Other Barn demographically draws from the other end of the spectrum.

Cederbaum said that the "Lively Arts for Little Ones" monthly series has a devoted following. Indeed, it has been on the scene for 40 years. Its programs are geared for kids ages 2 to 4.

Cederbaum mentioned that parents who brought their children decades ago are now grandparents and so they now bring their grandchildren.

The next "Jazz in the Mills" concert is Sunday, Aug. 30, 5-7:30 p.m., at the Other Barn in Oakland Mills. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Call 410-730-4610 or go to www.oaklandmills.org.

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