Lydia Salett Dudley is a jazz pianist and singer, though she does also sing christian and gospel. Her musical beginnings started in her childhood home as her mother played for a local baptist church when she was young and Dudley now considers playing in churches one of her favorite places to perform in.

Dudley grew up listening to classical music as well. “My mom practicing music on Saturday night,” chuckling as she recalls one of her favourite musical memories. “Or practicing her classical pieces.”

She’s gained much knowledge over her years of learning music with her mentors Professor Ed Paolantonio and Dr. Stephen Anderson. In fact, they’ve both assisted her in releasing “Green”, her first single in 2008 and her composition “Sunsets”. Other artists she’s admired includes Lester Young, Monk, and Mary Lou Williams, whom she did a thesis on.

One of her most notable achievements is her nonprofit organization, The Salett Art Center, Inc. in 2011. The organization’s mission is “to provide hope and inspiration through various educational music programs… which will enrich the quality of the musical lives of our underprivileged youth.”

She was really passionate in starting this organization and when asked about how it got started, she said, “I took my first jazz appreciation class back in 2005. Once I heard the information, I was like, this is awesome information. I grew up listening to this as a child, so I wanted to find a platform to share this information and I wanted to start a non-profit so that I can touch children under certain areas in order for them to get great musical information about jazz, blues, and negro spirituals.”

Often times when performing, artists make mistakes and Dudley is no exception. “I make a lot of them,” she says. “I guess it’s a part of life, just a part of the landscape.”

Noah Powell – a vocalist with ranges of various tempos, lyrics, and emotion – will be coming to Irregardless this Saturday night as part of a quartet. With his tunes, he’ll be sure to have you bopping your head and feeling the beat throughout his set.


From Kinston, NC, he went to North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham to pursue a degree in music. His roots of vocalizing ran deep as he loved music and grew up liking the Motown-era music he listened to as a kid. He participated in talent shows and summer camps in elementary school and from there, he sang in his school’s chorus group from junior high all through high school. He continued that when he went to NCCU and participated in regular as well as touring choir. Besides vocalizing, his range also includes playing some piano and percussion.


One of the mentors he had early on in his university career was Chip Crawford, who is now the arranger and music director for Gregory Porter. Crawford would suggest materials and recordings that he thought Powell might want to pursue.


“I met Chip when he was a graduate student at NCCU actually and he was the guy that really urged me to sing jazz professionally. I met him in the practice room one day and he recommended that I might want to pursue that,” Powell chuckles remembering that chance encounter. “He said, ‘hey man, you really got a voice for the jazz thing, that might be something you want to look into.’”


While he was at North Carolina Central University, he was involved in drugs and that became an intricate part in his spiral away from his music and his studies. “I experimented with drugs and I was one of those people who got caught up in that,” he recalled. “I made some alliances early on that I should not have made, people I befriended, circles that I ran in. At the end of the day, it’s the same old story, I got caught up in that and I went through a lot of stuff and eventually had to find my way out. I had to separate myself from the music for a while to address that issue because it’s such a overwhelming disease, it takes everything and uses everything in you to make you sustain your habit.” A documentary called Noah’s Arc was created to show this part of his life.


When asked if he remembered the first tune he sang or played, he answered, “actually, the first time I started doing sessions early on, particularly with the jazz in the early 80s, I believe it was my junior year in college. I used to go sit in at the Salaam Cultural Center which is on the west end in Durham.” The Salaam Cultural Center has since been shut down.


As a musician, his admiration for artists vary in multiple genres such as pop, rock & roll, and rhythm & blues. In jazz, he admires known artists such as Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Carter, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. Of the obscure vocalists, he admires Leon Thomas, Joe Lee Wilson, and Abbey Lincoln. The list goes on and on for him.


“[I remember] the first time I met Betty Carter, I met her at NCCU and she was doing a concert there,” he reminisced. “That was the first time I had met a vocalist I’d always admired and whatnot. It turned out to be her and it was a wonderful meeting. She’s an extraordinary vocalist and I love her to death.”

For those unfamiliar with latin jazz fusion, you’re in for a treat when Marimjazzia comes to play at the Irregardless Cafe this Saturday lead by Juan Alamo. The name of the band comes from the marimba, which is the instrument of choice for Alamo at Saturday’s performance, though he’s no stranger to many other percussion instruments.

Alamo, not just a musician and composer, also works at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill as an Assistant Professor and the Director of the Percussion Ensemble. He’s originally from Cidra, Puerto Rico and has performed live or on TV or radio in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela and the United States.

The members playing alongside Alamo are Steve Anderson on piano, Pete Kimosh on bass, Beverly Botsford on percussion, and Brevan Hampden on drums. This Saturday, however, Kimosh, Botsford, and Hampden are replaced by Andy Kleindienst on bass, Orlandus Perry on drums, and Ramon Ortiz on percussion.

When asked why Alamo chose percussion, he answered, “That’s a thing that happens naturally because I didn’t set out to have that happen. I’ve been playing percussion since I was a little kid.  I was attracted to the drums by seeing professional bands on TV or live shows and from that point on, I wanted to play drums.”

As a kid in Puerto Rico, he grow up listening to salsa music, the kind of dance-able, upbeat music that has likely influenced his music today. Jazz was also a genre Alamo listened to all his life, though he wasn’t aware of it at the time.

There wasn’t a single song that he can remember that he liked to perform when he first started playing as he mentioned there was a variety that attracted him. “There was so much happening, something new or that came on and it was interesting,” he said.

Throughout his career, there are memorable moments that Alamo can often look back on. One was ten years ago when he was invited to go to Mexico to do a series of concerts all over the country. “On the last stop, I was doing a show and when I finished one of the pieces, I looked up to the audience and in the back of the theatre, I see this group of people holding a flag from my homeland, Puerto Rico,” he reminisces.

This Saturday, the music Marimjazzia will be playing is a mixture of original composition, along with rearrangements of American and Latin standards. Like the Saturday standards at Irregardless, Marimjazzia’s music will be sure to make people get on their feet and start dancing.

“Invite everybody to come Saturday and check the band out,” he mentioned. “We always try to have something new like a new arrangement or a new composition. In fact, I will have a new tune on Saturday that I wrote recently. It should be a fun show and I hope to see many people there.”

Marimjazzia will also be releasing a new recording around October/November.