David Bowie, 1947-2016

January marks what would have been David Bowie’s 70th birthday and also the first year anniversary of his death. The Louisville Orchestra, along with performer Tony Vincent of “The Voice,” pay tribute to the legendary rock star with “The Music of David Bowie” on Saturday, Jan. 7, at the Kentucky Center.

The show is the brainchild of arranger and conductor Brent Havens, who has brought similar shows to the Louisville Orchestra since 2008, including the music of Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles and Pink Floyd. It’ll feature 17 of Bowie’s top songs that span his 40-plus years in the business.

Vincent — who appeared on Season 2 of “The Voice” and also has starred in Broadway musicals like “Rent,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “American Idiot” — was selected by Windborne Music to lead the national orchestral tour of “The Music of David Bowie,” and the stop in Louisville is just one of several throughout the country.

Tony Vincent

Vincent, who resides in New York City, tells Insider that Havens had entertained the idea for a Bowie show even before the musician’s death. After all, Bowie’s music is iconic and vast.

“His body of work is just so massive,” he says. “When I was revisiting his catalog, even with growing up listening to him, I couldn’t believe how many songs he had penned. And what also surprised me was he only had two No. 1 songs in America.”

Vincent has been a fan of Bowie’s from an early age and was thrilled to be chosen to bring his music to life. He admires the musician for his versatility.

“None of us could pinpoint what he would do next. He’d always take a left turn — a hard left turn — and that’s what made him so special,” he says. “He had an influence on culture that went beyond music.”

While one might think a show of this caliber would require countless practice time, Vincent says they run each show with an orchestra only once — the day of the performance. The Louisville Orchestra has had the music for weeks, however, and has had numerous run-throughs. It certainly is a testament to the skill level of each orchestra.

“We’re really fortunate that the orchestras we play with are so high caliber,” Vincent says. “We’re not reinventing the wheel or changing the arrangements. The point is to perform songs the audience knows in the most grand, epic way than they ever have been presented.”

The Louisville Orchestra takes on Bowie.

Vincent personally connects with Bowie’s song “Ashes to Ashes,” which is in the show, but he enjoys singing hits like “Fame” and “Let’s Dance” for the immediate interaction with the audience. His goal is to present the songs in the most authentic way he can.

He believes Bowie’s music continues to resonate and live on because the artist was so good at addressing, lyrically speaking, the human experience.

“One aspect he would explore was this continual search and longing to fill this hole we have inside of us,” Vincent says. “He was always searching out of body — whether it was love that was lost or love that was unattained. And he also addressed what else is out there — he was looking for something else.”

“The Music of David Bowie” takes place Saturday, Jan. 7, at 8 p.m. at the Kentucky Center. Tickets start at $40.

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."