Django Reinhardt could do just about anything with a guitar — including inspiring artists almost 60 years after his death.
Singer and songwriter Mary Alouette credits Billie Holiday and Nina Simone for being major musical influences — but her style is all Reinhardt.
“My particular type of music is gypsy jazz, which is a style that was brought forth by Django Reinhardt, who was a Belgian-gypsy guitarist living in Paris in the ‘30s and ‘40s,” Alouette says. “Then I also add modern elements with synthesizers and drum machines. ... I really love his music. He has these great, hot rhythms that are really upbeat.”
Alouette, along with her band, will be performing a Gypsy Jazz Christmas at Strathmore at 11 a.m. Friday.
“With the Strathmore concert, we’re going to keep it a little more traditional,” Alouette says. “I am working on some arrangements that use other instruments.
“We’re taking holiday songs, mostly Christmas with a few Hanukkah songs, and we’re setting them so that the instrumental will be gypsy jazz guitars.”
Alouette studied opera singing at McGill University in Montreal, but started performing when she was young.
“I started performing professionally when I was 7 with musical theater,” Alouette says.
Her first musical, she says, was “The Sound of Music,” which she’s since performed three times.
In 2011-2012, Alouette was part of the Artist-in-Residence program at Strathmore. There, she got to work with other up-and-coming artists and musicians. She was able to complete her residency program with performances at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage and at Strathmore Hall.
“The artist in residence program [at Strathmore] is a real continuous thing for me, even though I’m now an alumnus,” Alouette says. “It is a nice family of musicians and industry professionals where they bring us together and we have workshops. It was really helpful to learn about marketing and accounting for musicians.
“It was an eye-opening experience. I’m still self-managed and I still book my own gigs. I hope to one day, maybe, work with other people and expand to a larger audience.”
In the meantime, Alouette will be performing hot, holiday classics with a contemporary feel at Strathmore just in time for Christmas.