Ritchie set to perform selections from new CD

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 4, 2009

Natchez — Sylvia Johns Ritchie will present a concert at 6 p.m. Tuesday featuring piano arrangements from her CD “Back to my Christian Roots” at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Fatherland Road in Natchez. The CD features classic songs like “He,” “How Great Thou Art,” “Soon and Very Soon, “He Keeps me Singing,” “Victory in Jesus,” “In the Garden,” “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” and several other favorites and recent favorites.

Ritchie has entertained as a performer and songwriter since the 1970s. However, her first audience was at her hometown Baptist church in Rocky Mount, N.C., where she played the piano and organ and sang in the choir during nearly every service.

She received her formal training in music from East Carolina University and the University of South Alabama where she earned her bachelor of arts degree in music. She later studied at Tulane University and the Julliard School of Music in New York City.

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Ritchie worked her way through college playing piano and singing for restaurants, lounges and upscale hotels. Later she performed her one woman show from coast-to-coast including the cities of Mobile, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Nashville and Las Vegas. In 1981 she completed a European tour in Paris, Rome, London and Venice.

In the 1980s, she headlined at two of her own clubs in the French Quarter where she played with such greats as Pete Fountain, Al Hirt, Irma Thomas and Ronnie Kole. She recorded five albums during this decade featuring jazz, standards, pop, Broadway and Christmas selections.

In the early 1990s, Ritchie signed a recording deal with Oak Records in Nashville as part of a five-member girl group “White Lace.” The group was set to release an album, when the record producer ran away with the money set aside for the project.

After that, Ritchie left Nashville to come to Natchez for what was supposed to be a two-week stint at the River Park Hotel.

Today, still living in Natchez, she performs in the Miss-Lou for special event weekends with her jazz trio “Class Act” or her six-piece show band “Rendezvous,” who recently opened at the Arcade Theater in Ferriday for the Mickey Gilley show.

She has been the music director for eight shows at Natchez Little Theatre and is the special education visual arts and music teacher in the Concordia Parish School District. She teachers at six area schools.

Her CDs are available at the Delta Music Museum in Ferriday.