Monday, September 29, 2008

"Steppin' Out" Finalists, tonight at Scullers Jazz Club

Pianist MANAMI MORITA, Singer/Keyboardist BILL CHAMPITTO,
Jazz Vocalist GABRIELA HEER and Jazz/R&B/Funk/Rock/Pop Group BLAQUE LYTE

The Dimock Center has just announced the names of the four finalists for this year’s Steppin’ Out With The Stars Talent Showcase.

“It was very tough to choose the finalists . . . this year, all of the entrants were very high in quality,” noted Ruth Ellen Fitch, President and C.E.O. of The Dimock Center. “We had noted musicians and media professionals on the panel and all of them were very impressed with the level of talented musicians who submitted their materials.”

The four finalists are pianist Manami Morita, singer/keyboardist Bill Champitto, jazz vocalist Gabriela Heer and jazz/R&B/funk/rock/pop group Blaque Lyte. These young, talented artists will all compete at Scullers Jazz Club in the DoubleTree Guest Suites Hotel on Monday, September 29 beginning at 6:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Final competition judges include WFNX FM’s Sunday Jazz Brunch host Jeff Turton, noted arts and entertainment writer Kay Bourne, WATD FM’s “Round Midnight” jazz host Sherry Smith, Berklee College faculty member/pianist Ray Santisi, CEO and owner of the Waldwin Group Clayton Turnbull, noted jazz and R&B bassist Tim Ingles and the President and CEO of Dimock, Ruth Ellen Fitch. The showcase will be hosted by NECN personality Latoyia Edwards.

The showcase winner will receive $500.00 and the opportunity to appear at Steppin’ Out on November 8 at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel alongside stars like Lalah Hathaway, Amel Larrieux, Monty Alexander, Esperanza Spalding and many others.

The full Steppin’ Out stellar lineup includes Lalah Hathaway, smooth jazz saxophonist Andre Ward, R&B/pop star Amel Larrieux, Broadway Dreamgirls star Julia Nixon, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, band leader/tuba player Kendrick Oliver and his 20 piece New Life Orchestra, Jamaican reggae/jazz pianist Monty Alexander, jazz bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding, Boston’s own R&B vocalist Wannetta Jackson & Friends, Brazilian batería ensemble Samba Tremeterra, Gospel singer Larry Watson and the terrific local gospel groups Reverend Clarence Powell & Divine Praise and the Harmonizing Stars of Boston. Other artists will be announced shortly.

Tickets at $100.00 [seniors], $200.00 [general admission] and $350.00 [sponsor tickets] are on sale now. Sponsor tickets are available through The Dimock Center. General admission tickets are available via TicketWeb at, by phone at 866-468-7619 and directly from The Dimock Center, located at 55 Dimock Street, Roxbury. For complete event information, go to: or call: 617-442-8800 x1006.

Manami Morita, a native of Saitama, Japan, started playing classical piano at 4. At the time, she hated piano lessons because she wasn't attracted to classical piano. She loved to play but wanted more musical freedom. At 13, Morita discovered jazz and became addicted, even learning improvisation on her own. In 2004, Morita put aside thoughts of becoming a flight attendant or English teacher to follow her dream of playing jazz when she received a scholarship to study at Berklee. She was recently awarded the Mary Jane Earnhart Endowed Scholarship. Morita appears on the latest Jazz Revelation Records CD release, Common Ground, with the track “Going Home.”

Bill Champitto is a Boston-based singer, songwriter, pianist, synthesist and Hammond organist. His first love is live performances but he has extensive studio experience as well. He started playing rock and blues on the Hammond B3 organ and his first working gig was with a 9-piece bar band that played the waterfront in Troy, New York. In this group, he covered everything from Chicago to Earth, Wind and Fire, to the Ohio Players and jam bands like The Allman Brothers, Santana and Tower of Power.

A few bands later, Bill found himself on the road with various club and small venue acts. Being self-taught, Bill picked up everything he could from the wide variety of the players he toured with, learning jazz fusion from a sax player he worked with from the mid-west, jazz standards from a guitarist from New York, reggae from a bassist from the West Indies, southern rock and blues from another bassist who was a retired marine from Georgia, alternative rock from a drummer and a singer he met in upstate New York and Latin styles like salsa from a drummer who seemed to not have a home.
Bill came to Boston to attend Berklee and learn more about his trade from the best and decided to make Boston his home.

Gabriela Heer, who is from Germany, was on stage for the first time at the age of five, and she was a singer in various choirs (from classical music to gospel), a youth musical The Radio Heroes and with almost famous (a funk group). After a year at London’s Vocaltech Music College, she started her professional studies in singing at Musikhochschule Luzern (MHS) in 2006. Currently she is a singer with Talking Loud, Soulvirus, Hot Pink Bliss (pop / rock), not to help (a cappella) and her own jazz duo featuring Luzia von Wyl. With Gölä producer Thomas J. Gyger, she is also working on her own songs.

Blaque Lyte is a Boston-based band playing a wide range of music styles and featuring Brent Hebert on alto sax, Nick Estrela on guitar, Kyle Sousa on keyboards Jonas Imbert on drums, Alex Bailey on bass, Mark Dacruz on trumpet and Henry Baptista on tenor sax. Each musician in the group comes from a different musical background and so the band incorporates styles of jazz, R&B, funk, rock and pop into their writing and playing. Brent, Nick, and Jonas are currently attending Berklee College of Music, while Kyle, Mark and Henry have been surrounded by music from an early age. The main attribute of the band is that they play all their music by ear which allows for being spontaneous and entertaining.
Steppin’ Out for The Dimock Center is Boston’s liveliest and most highly anticipated annual gala fundraising event. Staged to mimic Boston's legendary and historic jazz clubs of the 30’s through today, this one-of-a-kind charity music-fest-party attracts some 3,000 of the city’s glitterati for an evening of music, dancing, food, cocktails, friends and fun. Steppin' Out will transport this year's partiers to a world of toe-tapping and head bopping music. Partiers will be dazzled by the array of nationally-recognized jazz and R&B headliners, who set toes a-tapping, lift audience members out of their seats to join the crowd dancing in the aisles and all for a vital cause!

Proceeds from the Steppin’ Out Gala will go to support The Dimock Center’s many health and human services programs. Originally founded in 1862 as the New England Hospital for Women and Children, The Dimock Center is nationally recognized as a model for the integrated delivery of comprehensive health and human services in an urban community. From its historic nine-acre campus in Roxbury and satellite locations throughout Boston, The Dimock Center provides vital services and programs to thousands of Boston City residents and families annually. The Center’s programs cover a range of services that include adult & pediatric medicine, eye & dental care, HIV/AIDS services, child & family development, behavioral health, and adult basic education. For more information about The Dimock Center, please visit

NECN is the official television sponsor for Steppin’ Out for The Dimock Center 2008.
WGBH 89.7 FM is the official radio station for Steppin’ Out for The Dimock Center 2008.

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