GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – When Laura Roth and Hui Cox met, it was a meeting of sounds. One is a professional vocalist and performer who’s appeared on TV, radio and stages far and wide. The other is a Grammy-nominated 7-string guitarist and music producer who has worked with Liza Minnelli, Mariah Carey, The Temptations and a long list of others.
And, after a lot of travels, both call Glens Falls home. The rest was only a matter of time.
“I always said that Hui was sent from the gods to me,” said Roth on Thursday morning, with a smile. “I’ve learned so much – he’s taught me so much – and he’s so patient and talented. I’m just very grateful to be able to work with him.”
On Thursday evening, a series of collaborations spanning about 5 years will get a new chapter. Roth and Cox will take the stage at the Park Theater in downtown Glens Falls, playing a jazzy, soulful show dedicated to essential workers at Glens Falls Hospital.
For Cox, who moved to Glens Falls from New York City about 5 years ago, the thank-you to the local hospital’s staff has to do with more than just the coronavirus pandemic. Around the start of the pandemic, he was hospitalized for health issues unrelated to the virus. During a weeks-long stay, he watched hospital staff care for him and his own situation while facing the early days of the pandemic. In the process, he was introduced to a whole part of the Glens Falls community he had never been a part of before; one that made the city feel that much more like home.
“I’m going to be honest,” Cox said. “Moving up from New York City, which is one of the most diverse cities in the world, to this area – I mean, I look like a raisin in a bowl of rice. I was really concerned about what was going to happen to me, but I’ve gotta tell you, I was given the best treatment possible in a very difficult situation.”
Roth and Cox aren’t alone. Joining them onstage are jazz pianist Anthoney Wonsey, drummer Mike Clark, and bassist Essiet Okum Essiet. All three are connections through Cox, and new to performing with the Glens Falls duo. For Roth, it’s an exciting chance to work with more talents in a world of music she’s only fully immersed herself into in the last few years, after decades of experience in cabaret singing and impersonation.
“For almost 20 years, after I came up to this area, I had to find a way to make money, doing what I can do without having to travel; I had kids, and a family, and all that,” Roth said. “I started doing impersonations because nobody else was doing them; now, everybody does tribute shows and things like that.”
The COVID-19 pandemic itself finally allowed Roth to step away from variety impersonation shows she would perform for tour bus groups at venues in Lake George, where she would take on the personas of Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand and a rotating list of others. When she met Hui Cox a couple years prior, the two started rehearsing and playing, performing at Cafe Lena in 2019 and continuing a musical conversation that they kept up into the early months of the pandemic – once Cox finished his stay at Glens Falls Hospital.
The bond the pair of musicians is returning to on Thursday night isn’t the only close connection the audience is in store for. Opening for Roth and Cox are a father-son duo. Ray Agnew – Glens Falls Hospital Vice President – will perform on guitar and piano alongside his son, guitarist Zane Agnew. Zane is coming all the way from Nashville, Tennessee to play at the Glens Falls venue close to the hospital whose workers the show is all for.
“Just to know that the Park Theater and such talented people like Laura and Hui would do this,” Agnew said. “I just can’t say enough.”
Agnew, who handles the hospital’s media and public relations, says the thank-you that Roth and Cox plan to give will be up-close. Around 60 Glens Falls Hospital staff plan to attend. The North Country Light Brigade, which puts on displays in support of local medical workers, will be outside for the half-hour preceding the show to welcome visitors.
As for what the audience is in for? It’s jazz, baby. Roth and Cox don’t like to give too much away. After all, revealing the energy as they go is part of the magic.
“Our hearts are on our sleeve,” said Cox. “We’re going to play a lot of jazz and jazz-influenced things. There may be some popular songs, but we’re going to play it our own way. There may be some twist, or improv. It’s all just us.”
Doors open at 7 p.m. on Thursday night, and the music starts at 7:30. $20 tickets can be picked up online, or at the door. The Park Theater requires proof of vaccination for all visitors.