Headliner Clint Holmes Shares the Stage with Local Students

On the weekend of June 5-7, Clint Holmes – resident artist at The Smith Center and one of Las Vegas’ most popular local entertainers – closed out his monthly Cabaret Jazz residency for the summer with a “Beatles, Bacharach & Billy” show. In it he performed hits by the Fab Four, Burt Bacharach and Billy Joel. (Tickets for Holmes’ return to Cabaret Jazz in September are available now.) Holmes, who is highly involved in the greater Las Vegas community, increased the spectacle of his recent shows by inviting young artists from Las Vegas Academy of the Arts on stage to perform.

“I’m part of the Public Education Foundation’s Artists 4 Kidz program … I go into schools and teachers bring me talented kids,” said Holmes, who either advises the youth himself or refers them to other local performing arts professionals. “One of the groups was KBeat, an a capella group.”

KBeat had just lost a competition, and one of their teachers hoped Holmes could help them discover why they had not won. “While I watched them, I realized they were missing interaction on stage,” Holmes said. “They sounded fine, but they didn’t look at each other. They didn’t know how to engage the audience.”

Having identified what KBeat was lacking, Holmes returned twice to the school for extracurricular coaching sessions. He also brought in Jerry Jones, a well-known local jazz artist with expertise in a capella, for a third coaching session. The trio of workshops did wonders in helping the group increase their stage presence and professionalism, leading Holmes to invite them to appear during his Saturday evening show.

During their time on the Cabaret Jazz stage, they performed two songs, including a rendition of “Latch,” a song byDisclosure (featuring Sam Smith). They also came back on stage for the finale, an uplifting and crowd-thrilling cover of the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.”

“They were so excited, grateful and nervous – all the things I would hope that they would be – and then they got up and they were terrific, just like pros,” he said. “It was so gratifying.”

On Holmes’ Sunday afternoon show, his special youth guest was the amazing Ja’Keetrius Woods, also of Las Vegas Academy. Woods recently garnered a runner-up Spotlight Award at the 2015 Nevada High School Musical Theater Awards held at The Smith Center on May 17. She worked with Holmes as a part of the cavalcade, of which he was part of the creative team that volunteered their experience.

“Ja’Keetrius Woods is a wonderfully talented young lady who my wife and I saw her perform as the lead in themusical Aida at Las Vegas Academy. That night we commented how special we thought she was,” Holmes said.

Having seen Woods perform both in Aida and at The Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall, he extended his hand to her. “I invited her to sing,” said Holmes. “She did and, again, it was such a rewarding experience.”

For her first piece in Cabaret Jazz, Woods performed Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time” in which Holmes, Jones and fellow veteran Vegas jazzman, Jon Celentano, sang backup. Following, she soloed on a lovely version of the Beatles’ “Let It Be.” Finally, Woods returned to the stage to join Holmes for the rousing closer, “Hey Jude.”

“She’s a gifted, very sweet, unassuming and happy kid,” he said.

Holmes added that his interactions with Southern Nevada’s young performers are important to him as a working entertainer. “When I go into schools, I call my wife after and I’m just exploding. I’m just so lucky,” said Holmes.

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