The Old Rugged Cross

Rebecca Varidel
12th Jan 2023

Acclaimed soul singer Emma Donovan and pianist, arranger composer and conductor Paul Grabowsky AO are joining forces for their incredible collaborative show, The Old Rugged Cross at City Recital Hall Sydney on 19 January 2023.

With family from both sides of the Australian continent, Emma Donovan is best known for her acclaimed output with The Putbacks and The Black Arm Band, additionally touring and recording alongside icons such as Archie Roach, Yothu Yindi and Paul Kelly. Donovan's many musical influences reflect her early experiences singing country music, as well as the rich legacy of soul which she famously inhabits so powerfully. In The Old Rugged Cross alongside Grabowsky and a powerful collection of Sydney's finest jazz musicians, she explores another side of those early wellsprings: the gospel and hymns she grew up with in communities. Some of these songs – like the title track, I’ll Fly Away and Will The Circle Be Unbroken will be familiar to lovers of the country gospel made famous by the likes of Johnny Cash, the Carter Family, and Elvis Presley. Emma will also perform songs by her grandfather Micko Donovan, and deliver a memorable tribute to Aretha Franklin Amazing Grace.

Originally premiering as part of Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2021, the show is kicking off the City Recital Hall Presents' inaugural season '01 | 23', which runs until 24 March 2023.

Before the season kicks off, City Recital Hall will be installing a new world-class 360-degree spatial audio sound system that will bring music to life in ways that Australian audiences have not experienced before. Its technology has been described by Björk herself as creating “the most gorgeous sound I have ever heard in a room.” City Recital Hall will become one of the few venues globally, and the first commercial venue in Australia, capable of full spatial audio.