Houston, Potts to perform in virtual coffeehouse

Wanda Houston and George Potts will perform in a virtual concert Dec. 4.

Wanda Houston and George Potts will perform in a virtual concert Dec. 4.

Courtesy of Kent Memorial Library

The Kent Memorial Library will offer its final virtual coffeehouse, featuring Wanda Houston and George Potts, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m.

Houston lives in the South Berkshires where she works as a private vocal coach and choral director. Potts has bee singing and playing music throughout Litchfield County for more than four decades.

Houston is also the lead vocalist for a number of projects, including the Mothership Trio, The VJC Big Band, The HBH Band and The Wanda Houston Band.

For years, Houston sustained a bi-coastal career in theater and music that put her on stages with the likes of Barbara Streisand, Patti Austin, Joe Cocker, Celine Dion and Rick Astley.

A private scholarship to study opera took her to the University of Southern California, but she soon found herself on tour with Motown legends Mary Wells, Martha and the Vandellas, and The Platters while performing with The Marvelous Marvelettes.

Later she joined the cast in the Michael Jackson production of “Sisterella!” and toured through Germany, Austria and Australia. After returning from Europe, she made the move to New York City in the cast of “A Good Swift Kick” and was later cast in the New York company of “Menopause the Musical.”

Houston was the featured vocalist in the Roundabout Theater production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” that starred John C. Reilly and Natasha Richardson and was a soloist with the Broadway Inspirational Voices gospel choir that received a Grammy nomination for its Christmas album, “Great Joy.”

After leaving a full-time music career in Chicago and relocating to Kent in June of 1976, Potts served for many years as the bassist for his father-in-law Dolph Traymon’s group, The Fife ’n Drum Trio.

He also performed in the 1990s as a member of the Kent Singers, and as a solo guitarist and vocalist.

Since the late 1990s, Potts has most often been seen as a member of the popular area quartet, the Joint Chiefs.

They have headlined local performances at Infinity Hall, and other concerts opening for music legends such as Judy Collins and Rodney Crowell.

In between Joint Chiefs gigs, Potts continues to play in various duos and trios, including with Houston, and multi-instrumentalist Gordon Titcomb.

But he still enjoys the chance to perform by himself, and that most often occurs back at the Fife.

“There is something uniquely freeing about playing solo,” he said. “Because you don’t have to be tightly locked-in rhythmically or vocally with other musicians, you can choose to pull a song into unexpected places; and that’s where my ‘musical goose bumps’ live.”

“It also gives me the occasional opportunity to play material I may have written or arranged that might not quite fit into the Joint Chiefs’ style,” he said.

Primarily a finger-style guitarist and tenor vocalist, Potts mines his solo material from many places: old church hymns, folk songs and bluesy tunes, reinterpretations of Motown and pop hits, as well as a few dozen original songs he has written over the years.

“I am certainly not a prolific writer, but since retiring a couple of years ago I have begun to refocus on my writing a bit more,” he said. “I’m my own worst critic, but thankfully a few of the new tunes have made it through my own personal gauntlet.”

The free events will be offered via Zoom. Preregistration is required by visiting www.kentmemoriallibrary.org.