Family Act

The Duttons perform in Payson

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Natalia Dutton

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Belle Dutton, the beautiful Samoan wife of Jonathan Dutton, is a former featured dancer at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii. She envisioned a day where American audiences could truly experience and appreciate the Polynesian culture. “Island Fire” has turned Belle’s dream into reality. Belle devoted significant time to the production of the show and is also performing in the show, along with her 6-year-old daughter, Natalia.

The Tonto Community Concert Association is bringing the audience-pleasing Dutton family to Payson, live, the evening of Monday, March 2. The concert is one of eight in the organization’s 30th season and begins at 7 p.m. at the Payson High School auditorium.

The Duttons are international touring and recording artists that offer everything from bluegrass to classical in their shows, featuring a variety of instruments: violin, guitar, bass, viola, banjo, mandolin, keyboard, harmonica and drums among others.

The Duttons have not only won recognition in national fiddling contests, and as studio musicians, but have also garnered praise and awards in classical violin competitions.

In addition to their instrumental virtuosity, The Duttons are accomplished singers and dancers and have been recognized as superb vocal talents. Behind the scenes, The Duttons collaborate to create unique production ideas for their shows, which delight audiences. The show is self-produced by the family, including the choreography, musical arrangement, technical support, production and marketing.

Inspiration for this amazing group has come from various sources. Some performers that are favorites with the family members are The Eagles, Ricky Skaggs, Rascall Flatts, Nickel Creek, Kronos Quartet and James Taylor among many others. The true source of the family’s inspiration, however, lies with Dean and Sheila Dutton — aka Dad and Mom to The Duttons.

Dean and Sheila Dutton were not professional musicians and they certainly weren’t planning on raising their children as such, but when they realized that this was going to be their lifestyle, they came on board wholeheartedly. In Sheila’s case, it even came to the point that she had to go completely outside of her comfort zone and learn how to play an instrument with no musical background whatsoever. In Dean’s situation, as a tenured economics professor, it meant giving up his chosen career and completely supporting his children in another.

Since that decision was made in 1991, The Duttons as a whole have not looked back and have gone on to a successful touring career and music business. Today, they own their own theater in Branson, Mo. where they perform more than 300 shows a year, as well as their own hotel and restaurant.

What the future holds is anyone’s guess. Projects on the table include a new album of original songs composed and arranged by the members of the family. Additionally, hundreds of people have asked Sheila to write a book of the group’s adventures like how to travel with 15 people in a converted van for over a million miles and the day-to-day lifestyle of a family of professional musicians.

Last, and most fascinating with this family, is how The Duttons’ love for each other and their love for what they do is immediately obvious.

The Tonto Community Concert Association is a nonprofit organization that has been bringing high quality concerts to Arizona Rim Country at an affordable price for 30 years. The all-volunteer group also supports other performing arts activities in the region. The concerts feature artists of national and international acclaim. Season ticket subscriptions are $80 and single concert tickets are $30 for local residents. For subscriptions or other information, call (928) 478-4363.

Future concerts — presented at the Payson High School auditorium — in the ’08-09 season are as follows:

Sunday, March 22, 2:30 p.m., the review “American Jukebox”

Sunday, May 10, 2:30 p.m., Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues

*Performances and dates subject to change.

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