Hail to the queen — Queen Latifah, that is. The singer-actress — who stole John Travolta’s thunder in the summer hit Hairspray — brings her big voice and soulful sound to two Valley venues this month. On tour promoting her just-released CD, Trav’lin’ Light (which was due in stores in late September), the Grammy award-winner departs from her rap roots to sing jazz and pop standards with a 13-piece big band orchestra. Latifah performs first at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Troy (Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. $79-$85; 518-273-0038 or www.troymusichall.org); the next night, catch her at the Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston (Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. $50-$85; 845-339-6088 or www.upac.org).
Speaking of the Collar City (and its renowned Music Hall): one of our favorite actors — and Valley denizens — makes an appearance there in an unusual event. Emmy and Tony award-winner James Earl Jones (a Pawling resident) presents a program entitled “Poetry I Love to Read.” Jones uses his distinctive voice to bring to life works by Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allen Poe and other great writers. As a child, the actor suffered from a crippling stutter, which he overcame with the help of learning to recite poetry. Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. $49-$53. Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Second St., Troy. 518-273-0038 or www.troymusichall.org
Exhibiting the works of the Hudson River School — the 19th-century artists renowned for their depiction of the Valley’s pastoral beauty — is (happily) a common practice at local museums. The latest show at Vassar College’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, called Hudson River School Trilogy, brings together works from three different sources. Paintings by Frederic Church, Sanford Gifford, and Jasper Cropsey (among others) are the main focus of a private collection on loan for this exhibit. The college’s own holdings — purchased by Matthew Vassar himself in 1864 — are also on view. And the Dia Art Foundation (owners of Dia:Beacon) provides a selection of detailed drawings done by these much-admired artists. Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thurs. to 9 p.m., Sun. 1-5 p.m. through Oct. 21. 124 Raymond Ave., Poughkeepsie. 845-437-5632 or http://fllac.vassar.edu
“Eclectic” is the best word to describe the October goings-on at the Performing Arts Center, Purchase College. A theatrical adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984, staged by Tim Robbins’ Actors’ Gang, starts the month off with a dramatic bang (Oct. 5-6). Music lovers have an array of options ranging from the South African a cappella ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo (Oct. 5) and the uber-contemporary group Bang on a Can All-Stars (Oct. 13) to jazz guitarist Pat Metheny (Oct. 26). The month ends with the Golden Dragon Acrobats (Oct. 28), a high-flying show that combines acrobatics, dance, and music. Call for times and ticket information. 735 Anderson Hill Rd., Purchase. 914-251-6200 or www.artscenter.org