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Summer Concert Series revs up again in Newport Beach with Chaka Khan, LeAnn Rimes, Peter Cetera

Chaka Khan will appear at the Summer Concert Series at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach on Aug. 24.
Chaka Khan will appear at the Summer Concert Series at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach on Aug. 24.
(Courtesy of the Summer Concert Series)

Ten-time Grammy Award winner Chaka Khan, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Peter Cetera, Grammy winner, actress and author LeAnn Rimes and Brazilian maestro Sergio Mendes are all scheduled to perform starting July 13 at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach’s 24th annual Summer Concert Series.

Also on the schedule are contemporary jazz outfit The Rippingtons (July 13), jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra (July 13), respected jazz trumpeter Chris Botti (July 20), Vincent Ingala and Lindsey Webster (July 27), Asian American jazz fusion band Hiroshima and Selina Albright (Aug. 17), Dave Koz Summer Horns (Sept. 14), funky keyboardist Brian Culbertson (Sept. 21) and the Sax Pack — Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole and Jackiem Joyner (Sept. 28).

The concerts will run for 12 weeks on Friday evenings at the Hyatt Regency’s 1,000-seat Back Bay Amphitheater, an intimate venue that features Newport’s Back Bay as a backdrop.

“It’s a gorgeous setting,” said Rich Sherman, president of Omega Events and producer of the Summer Concert Series. “Most of the time it’s a wedding site. Most people would not imagine we would do a LeAnn Rimes or Chaka Khan in that setting, so that adds to the appeal and the charm.”

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Launched in 1995, the Summer Concert Series at the Hyatt Regency used to focus primarily on jazz. After all, the organizers — Omega Events — are the same folks who founded and produced the Newport Beach Jazz and Doheny Blues festivals.

“The feeling was, through most of the ’90s and 2000s, all the jazz was flying high,” Sherman said, “but by using the same artists over and over, crowds started to dwindle or the audience was locked in. That’s when we started introducing pop music, rock ’n’ roll and funk.”

Peter Cetera, co-founder of the legendary rock/pop band Chicago, has never performed at the Hyatt Regency, but he lived in Southern California for several years and has been to Newport Beach many times. Cetera will perform Aug. 10 with a seven-piece band out of Nashville that calls itself “the Bad Daddies.”

“We do a great combination of songs from Chicago — the ones that I wrote — and from my solo career,” said Cetera, 73, who has lived in Ketchum, Idaho since 1986. “Everybody goes away very satisfied and very happy.”

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Cetera’s set list will include “If You Leave Me Now,” “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” “Hard Habit to Break,” “Love Me Tomorrow,” “You’re the Inspiration,” “Glory of Love” and “The Next Time I Fall.”

Cetera left Chicago — not on the best of terms — in 1986.

“There are a lot of good memories, a lot of bad memories; it’s kind of like a marriage,” he said. “Sometimes you stay together. The songs you write are like your kids. Once the kids grow up and leave the house, sometimes the marriage tends to break up, and that’s kind of what happened.”

But Cetera says he doesn’t have any regrets. He still does gigs around the country every one to two weeks. “I kind of like where I’m at now. I’m still out there, having more fun than I’ve had in my career.”

LeAnn Rimes scored a huge hit in 1996 with her first single and album, “Blue.” At 14, she became the youngest person ever to win a Grammy. She won two in 1997, for best new artist and best female country vocal performance.

“I am very thankful,” said Rimes, now 35. “I truly am because the music industry is tough. I try to make sure whatever music I am making inspires me. My hope is that other people resonate with it the way I do.”

Rimes’ latest release is an EP titled “Re-Imagined,” which features five favorite songs from her catalog. She sings a stripped-down version of “Blue” and the harmonic ballad “Borrowed,” recorded as a duet with Stevie Nicks.

“A lot of these new, re-imagined versions came from when I was preparing for my ‘Remnants’ tour last year,” Rimes said. “My band and I were messing around and these naturally flowed and came out. We started performing them on the road, and they got such a positive response from the fans, we wanted to make these songs available to everyone.”

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Rimes said working with the Fleetwood Mac singer and songwriter Nicks was “a dream come true.”

“We connected on such a human level and on an artistic level,” Rimes said. “She and her music has been such a huge influence to me and to be in the same room with her, let alone record one of my songs, was humbling.”

Tickets are on sale now for individual shows, which range from $50 to $130, and season passes, which include all 12 concerts and are about $1,700. Season passes include assigned premium seating, valet service and access to a VIP hospitality suite.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is the official nonprofit partner of the concert series. Attendees can purchase Make-A-Wish preferred seating and Omega Events will donate $25 per ticket sold.

For tickets and information, visit series.hyattconcerts.com.

Richard Chang is a contributor to Times Community News.


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