Last night, it was my great pleasure to attend, at the behest of my hubby, the 25th Anniversary Singer’s Showcase at Berklee College of Music.
It had been a very long work day and I was feeling badly that I missed a meeting I wanted to attend a couple of hours before the concert. I also was having serious pain in my left leg (an old injury that flares up time to time). So, I was not in the best mood going into the showcase. My mood lifted within a few within a few minutes of the start of the concert.
My first impressions:
- Lights! Cameras! Action!
- Talent! Glitter!
- Emerging and Seasoned Singers!
- Phenomenal Students and Alumnae!
- Stellar Production Values!
It was all there!
The Singers Showcase featured current Berklee students as well as Special Guest Lead Vocalists who were alumnae of the school. The alumnae were Paula Cole and Lalah Hathaway (Class of 1990) and Darcel Wilson (1986) who is also a member of the faculty and had a very, very loud coterie of fans who kept interrupting her singing with their catcalls and whistles. (I mention this because they were close to where I was sitting Iand interrupted my ability to hear some of Darcel’s tremendous flights of singing! Jennifer Hudson has nothing on her!)
The showcase was produced and all of the talent provided by Berklee students – from the band to the ushers, box office staff, sound and lighting technicians, and MCs.
All of the student singers were talented. A few STOOD out. The singers who stood out in my humble opinion were:
Mario Jose (Don’t Lead Me On) – A big poppa kind-of guy with a great voice for ballads and a personality large enough to fill the stage.
Tania Jones (I Know You Know) – Sultry, sophisticated, and ready for her close-up.
Jenna O’Gara (I Will Be) – She has such an incredible voice and stage presence that she seemed seasoned and ready to play to a stadiums full of people.
Aubrey Logan (Oh What A Beautiful Morning) – She has a sassy presence and the most unique voice of the evening. Not only did she own this song, she also played the trombone. Aubrey had the most difficult spot in the line-up because she followed Darcel Wilson, the faculty member and alumnae who brought the house down on “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
Denise Hudson (A Night in Tunisia) – She used her rousing rendition of this standard to close the show (before the final encore brought everyone to the stage).
Lalah Hathaway is the only person besides Luther Vandross who I never want to hear sing Forever, For Always, For Love. Her voice is smoky and deeply delicious! Paula Cole sang a song she wrote, Amen. This prayer of a song was delivered in her signature style. The song’s lyrics reflect on how all of us have a part in this world and deserve/need an amen. It illuminated the experience I was having in the concert with the multiracial crowd of students and audience members. It underscored what an institution like Berklee stands for in the world: the healing, uniting force of music, in many, if not all of its permutations.
The fact that scholarships were announced during the mid-point of the evening was the icing on the cake of this concert and given so quickly (with no acceptance statements from students) that they almost got short shrift. (I can’t tell you who won them since I didn’t take notes and they are not listed in the printed program.)
The point of the evening was music, particularly the voice. The variety of voices and musical genres brought home the message that I keep rediscovering: that the world is bountiful with talent! (Oh, would that all that talent could be nurtured!) The only thing that would have made the evening better is if a CD of the concert and a DVD of the live-footage of the singers that was projected behind them while they performed, were available for sale. (You know how at many churches you can get a DVD of the sermon as you leave church? This would have been right on time!)
Let me run with the church analogy for a minute. The concert was a kind of praise – lifting talented voices (including the background vocals of other Berklee students), singing and performing positive songs, before a crowd of believers. We did, indeed, have church.
Congratulations to everyone who made this event happen. I plan to be there next year, God willing.