Saturday evening I had the great good fortune of to attend the Jessye Norman concert at Weill Hall in Rohnert Park.
Oh my God! That woman is.. a joy and delight ... an instruction ... a treasure. It’s always seemed to me that it was too damn bad that the U.S. doesn’t follow the example of several other nations and designate superb artists as National Treasures.
One might think that since Ms. Norman is pushing 70 with a real short stick she might find the demands of performing and a full concert schedule a bit beyond her. NOT! This increasable lady still has it ... and I mean IT! When she took the stage swirling a gorgeous flowing caftan we, the entire audience were on our feet and the hall resounded with wild applause, as it continued to do throughout the performance.
Saturday night’s concert was a celebration of the American Musical Theater. During the first half she performed works by George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Richard Rogers and Kern. After the intermission she came back with a tribute to Nina Simone as she sung “My Baby Just Cares For Me,” then on to celebrate Lena Horn with “Stormy Weather,” Odetta with “Pretty Horses,” and Ella Fitzgerald with “Mack the Knife.”
The program ended with Duke Ellington’s “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” I’ve Got it Bad,” and when she sang “It Don’t Mean A Thing if You Ain’t Got the Swing,” she had no problem getting the audience to accompany her with the “do – aah, do – aah, do – aah’s...”
In addition to her vital and immense voice, this grand lady embodies an immense lust for life and is the essence of the spirituality as is evident by her on going charitable works. Her labors to maintain the performing arts goes without saying but this dedicated lady has also lent her name and her energies to raising funds for aids, the homeless, eliminating hunger and keeping kids off the streets. She is actively involved in the Jessye Norman School of the Arts, a tuition free after-school program for economically disadvantaged students.
Chalk up yet another grand success for Weill Hall and the Green Music Center. I consider myself fortunate beyond bounds to have this world class venue in my own back yard.
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You may read more of my work at The Questing Feast.
You may listen to me live on KGGV – The Bridge at 95.1 FM
or Streaming Worldwide at KGGV
I have two programs
“Live From the Bridge,” Monday noon to 12:50 pm
(interviews and live music with local musicians)
'The Questing Feast," Monday from 1:10 to 2:00 pm
(chatting about food and wine with local food and wine people)