In keeping with its theme of “Looking Backward and Forward,” the 2013 Juilliard in Aiken Performing Arts Festival and Outreach Program will kick off its five-year anniversary celebration in January with the return of a favorite artist from a previous year.


Jennifer Sheehan, the New York-based cabaret singer whose “American Songbook” show headlined the 2012 festival, will star in two special fundraising performances on Jan. 11 and Jan. 12 at The Willcox.


Sheehan will be presenting her new show, “I Know A Place,” focused on the songs of the 1960s. A huge success in New York, where it played in such famous venues as Feinstein’s and the Metropolitan Room, the show is a compilation of diverse popular music from such iconic composers and performers of that era as Hal David and Burt Bacharach, Barbra Streisand, Karen Carpenter, Diana Ross, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Judy Garland and the Beatles.


The Friday night performance is black tie and will include an elegant dinner to accompany the show, followed by a champagne and dessert reception with Sheehan. Saturday night’s event gives audience members a chance to enjoy the same performance, the same warm setting and the same sophisticated dinner menu, but in a less formal atmosphere. Both shows will benefit the outreach and festival performance programs of Juilliard in Aiken.


Sandra Field, president of the organization, said both the artist and the music should play well with Aiken audiences.


“The 60s is such a nostalgic era for many of us,” she said. “And everyone who saw Jennifer in her ‘Cabaret Under the Stars’ performance here in March absolutely loved her. Even people who thought they didn’t like cabaret were completely won over.”


Sheehan, a 2007 Juilliard graduate, has received rave reviews for her new show. Bistro Awards called it “a cabaret moment to be remembered for a lifetime.” Examiner said, “This exceptional performer is a star on the rise,” citing “her joyful quality (and) sweet and genuine smile filled with a youthful, eager ‘I can do that’ spirit.”


Sheehan’s performances launch the 2013 season of the Juilliard in Aiken Performing Arts Festival and Outreach Program, a unique collaboration between one of the world’s most prestigious performing arts conservatories and the Aiken community. The weeklong festival and outreach will take place March 9-15.


Tickets for the Jan. 11 Opening Night Gala, including the champagne and dessert reception with Sheehan, are $150 per person. Tickets for the encore performance and dinner on Jan. 12 are $125. Both events begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at www.juilliardinaiken.com or through the URS Center box office, 648-1438.