Ellis Hall performs twice with Dallas Symphony Orchestra over holiday weekend | VailDaily.com

Ellis Hall performs twice with Dallas Symphony Orchestra over holiday weekend

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Nicknamed “The Ambassador of Soul,” Ellis Hall is a multi-instrumentalist, as well as being equipped with a five-octave vocal range. He will perform with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra this weekend in Vail.

VAIL — Musician and vocalist Ellis Hall will perform two concerts with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Jeff Tyzik, on Saturday and Monday at the Gerald Ford Amphitheater in Vail as part of the Bravo! Vail music festival.

Nicknamed "The Ambassador of Soul," Hall is a multi-instrumentalist, as well as being equipped with a five-octave vocal range. These talents have been the driving force behind the creation of a 3,800-song catalog full of soul, gospel, blues and pop compositions, including the official song for his hometown of Claxton, Georgia.

Hall has worked alongside such musical greats such as Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Natalie Cole, Patti LaBelle, Toby Keith, Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Bobby Womack, George Duke, Sheila E. and Kenny G. In addition to being a lead vocalist and keyboard player for Tower of Power, he was also one of the vocalists behind the beloved California Raisins.

Hall has also made appearances in Hollywood, recording and performing songs for live-action and animated films such as "The Lion King 2," "Shrek 2," "Chicken Run," "Invincible" and "Bruce Almighty" and taking acting roles in "Big Momma's House" and the crime drama "Catch Me If You Can." Hall was nominated for an Ovation Theater Award for his first stage role in "The Gospel at Colonus," in which he sang and acted.

About Hall

Hall was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma at an early age and lived knowing one day he would be blind. Ever mindful of that fate, he practiced all of his instruments in the dark so he would always be able to play them. He played football and competed in wrestling, maintaining good sight in his left eye until an injury from the latter at age 18 prematurely robbed him of his sight once and for all.

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Though the side effects of glaucoma are physically painful, psychologically, Hall had prepared himself for blindness, seeing himself as "differently-abled," not disabled. His said his most cherished memories are sunsets and pretty ladies.

"When people ask me about my blindness, I tell them, 'I didn't pay the electric bill on time … so they cut the lights out on me,'" Hall said.

Hall's first professional recording was for rocker Paul Pena on Capitol Records in 1971 playing bass and singing background on his single "The River." Then in 1973, he formed The Ellis Hall Group. Their first gig was opening for an early incarnation of Earth Wind & Fire, whose leader, Maurice White, was so impressed he said their performance inspired him to make his group step up its presentation.

On another stop opening for the Temptations, Hall's group performed Side 1 of Stevie Wonder's new "Innervisions" LP and received a standing ovation. On another show opening for the Spinners, when that group's bass player went missing, Hall saved the day by playing all of their hits from memory, shocking everyone.

For more information on Hall's career and to hear his work, visit http://www.ellishall.com.

If you go …

What: “Ellis Hall: Ray Charles, Motown & Beyond,” with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jeff Tyzik.

When: 6 p.m. Saturday, July 2.

Where: Gerald Ford Amphitheater, 530 South Frontage Road E., Vail.

Cost: $28-$119.

What: “Patriotic Concert” with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jeff Tyzik and vocalist Ellis Hall.

When: Monday, July 4; gates open at 12:30 p.m., concert starts at 2 p.m.

Where: Gerald Ford Amphitheater, 530 South Frontage Road E., Vail.

Cost: Pavilion tickets are sold out; lawn seating is free and first-come, first-served.

More information: Visit bravovail.org.