Pink Martini and China Forbes bring “musical adventure” to Mercyhurst

The numbers are an impressive part of the history of the highly demanded and world-traveling band, Pink Martini.

A dozen musicians. Songs performed in 25 languages. Shows on six continents. Over 3 million albums sold worldwide.

U.S.-based genre-bending Pink Martini with singer China Forbes brings her multilingual repertoire to Mercyhurst University on Saturday to cap the 25th Anniversary Gala of the Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture at Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center. The show starts at 7 p.m. at 501 E. 38th St.

The Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Mary D'Angelo Performing Arts Center with a special Pink Martini Gala featuring China Forbes on June 4.  Pink Martini is shown in an undated photo.

The acclaimed band made their orchestral debut with the Oregon Symphony in 1998 and have performed with more than 70 orchestras around the world since their founding in Portland, Oregon, by conductor and pianist Thomas Lauderdale in 1994, according to a press release provided by Pink Martini.

Lauderdale said he was inspired by music from around the world, including classical, jazz and old-school pop, to create the “little orchestra” Pink Martini. Its original goal was to provide beautiful, inclusive musical soundtracks for political fundraisers for causes such as civil rights, affordable housing, climate change, library funding, public broadcasting, education, and parks. , says the press release.

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Describing the band, Lauderdale said, “Pink Martini is a thrilling musical adventure around the world. … If the United Nations had a house band in 1962, I hope we would be that band.

Thomas Lauderdale, bandleader and pianist of Pink Martini, founded the group in 1994.

“We are truly an American band, but we spend a lot of time overseas and therefore have the incredible diplomatic opportunity to represent a larger, more inclusive America,” Lauderdale said in the statement, “…the America that remains the most heterogeneous populated country in the world… made up of people from all countries, all languages, all religions. With the exception of Native Americans, we are all immigrants from all countries, all languages, all religions.

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Pink Martini has displayed its universal appeal on stage and with symphony orchestras across Asia, Australia, Europe, Greece, the Middle East, New Zealand, North Africa, America South, Turkey and North America.

The band have released 11 studio albums on their independent label Heinz Records – named after the dog from Lauderdale – and have won several gold records in several countries, including France, Canada, Greece and Turkey. In 2011, they released “1969”, a collaboration album with Japanese singer Saori Yuki. The album was certified platinum in Japan and marked the first time a Japanese artist hit the US Billboard charts since 1963.

Pink Martini singer China Forbes has performed songs in over 20 languages.  The Massachusetts-born performer wrote many of Pink Martini's most beloved songs with bandleader Thomas Lauderdale.

Forbes, an actress, singer and fellow Harvard student from Lauderdale, played a pivotal role in the band’s success, performing songs in more than 20 languages. She was recruited to New York in 1995 to sing with Pink Martini and has since written many of the band’s best-loved songs with Lauderdale, including “Clementine”, “Lilly”, “Let’s Never Stop Falling in Love”, “Friendly”. , “Over the Valley” and “A Snowglobe Christmas”. The French hit, “Sympathique” (“I don’t want to work” which translates to “I don’t want to work” in English), was released in 1997 and remains a mantra for striking French workers.

In 2019, Pink Martini released two EPs featuring new band members, vocalists Jimmie Herrod and Edna Vazquez. The two singers are officially part of the group with the release of “Tomorrow” by Herrod and “Besame Mucho” by Vaquez, both co-produced by Lauderdale and Forbes.

The band have played sold-out concerts everywhere, from Carnegie Hall to the famous Sydney Opera House in Australia and London’s Royal Albert Hall, to the legendary L’Olympia theater in Paris and places in between. In 2014, Pink Martini was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame and the Oregon Music Hall of Fame.

The group also made several appearances on national late-night television talk shows and were featured on “CBS Sunday Morning.” Pink Martini has performed on several New Year’s Eve shows on NPR’s “Toast of the Nation.”

Many artists have collaborated with Pink Martini, including Phyllis Diller, Jimmy Scott, Carol Channing, Rita Moreno, Jane Powell, Rufus Wainwright, Michael Feinstein, Charo, Doc Severinsen, filmmaker Gus Van Sant and many more.

Pink Martini also employs regular guest artists, including NPR’s Ari Shapiro, host of “All Things Considered”; Cantor Ida Rae Cahana; koto player Masumi Timson; harpist Maureen Love; and Kim Hastreiter, co-founder of Paper magazine.

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Singer China Forbes, shown in a hot air balloon, soars above Pink Martini, the international band she leads with bandleader and pianist Thomas Lauderdale.

If you are going to …

Tickets for Saturday’s 7 p.m. performance range from $30 to $55 and can be purchased online at, by calling 814-824-3000, or in person at the Mary D’Angelo Performing Box Office Arts Center at 501 E 38th St. The box office is open Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 5 p.m. and 90 minutes before each ticketed event. Each order is subject to a processing fee of $3 per ticket. Visit for more information on current COVID-19 policies.

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