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Women of Wellington Jazz Festival

By Frances 27 May 2019

Forget Herbie – he's a sell-out (as in all of the tickets to his gig are gone, not that he’s personally sold-out), but there’s plenty more superstar talent in the Wellington Jazz Festival line-up.

We've put together a guide on some of the top female talent at this year's festival; some may already be familiar names, others not yet familiar – either way, skip Spotify Discover and find your new favourite musician IRL this WJF.  

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Alicia Olatuja

Alicia Olatuja

Cut the degrees of separation between you and Barack Obama: Alicia performed at President Obama’s second inauguration. She’s been praised by the New York Times as having a ‘regal presence on stage’ and her album, Songs from the Minds of Women, has received critical acclaim. No doubt she’ll be headlining the Wellington Jazz Festival one day, so get in and see her now for ‘I saw her before she was insanely famous’ bragging rights. 

Whistling Sisters’ sister sessions 

Whistling Sisters’ free music sessions each Sunday and during Jazz Fest, every day’s a Sunday with at least one daily session with an entirely female line-up.  

  • Get along for the Anita Schwabe Quartet for sultry melodies with a splash of Latin groove. 
  • Get ready for Katelin Little as she reinvents songs by powerhouses like Erykah Badu, Nai Palm, Aretha Franklin and Aotearoa’s very own Kimbra. 
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Hollie Smith

Hollie Smith Acoustic at Thistle Inn 

Hollie doesn’t need an introduction, but let’s recap because it’s impressive: she’s worked with some of Wellington and New Zealand’s most formative bands, including Trinity Roots and Fat Freddy’s Drop. Smith is probably best known for performing Don McGlashan’s chart-topping single Bathe in the River, which will most likely be stuck in your head now, and the best way to remove an earworm is to go see the artist play live. [This gig has now sold out] 

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Billie Holiday at Caroline

Tributes to the greats  

Top local talent are paying tribute to some of the greats with special sessions at Rogue and Vagabond and Caroline.  

Jazz session (IPA)

Contemporary jazz in a craft beer bar? This is peak Wellington Jazz Festival and we like it. Lauren Nottingham takes inspo from prog rock and reinterprets classic pop songs from the 70s and 80s as well as making her own original works. For her gig at Tuatara's Third Eye, Nottingham will be accompanied by drums, bass and guitar. 


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