Wow. Another amazing night out of the blue. I put together Sarah Ayers and Robbi Kumalo on stage. Two women, powerful singers and performers on their own, neither having really met before and both piano players met on stage with me in the middle. There was more talk and less music tonight, but really no big deal because the conversation was deep, real and revealing. This is the hallmark of this series. Again, the magic happened and beyond my wildest expectations.
Sara is a perennial vocal star on the local blues scene who composes on piano but doesn’t perform on it. She’s got a band to do that. So, it was a step outside her comfort zone tonight. She stepped up with some amazing tales of her physical battles with vocal health. She played some powerful and personal songs. Bam.
Robbi is a pro, having traveled the world, singing backup vocals with major pop icons, an accomplished teaching artist. Well, I could go on. She spoke of the ‘no big deal’ of growing up in her family’s music, recognizing the power of humility in the studio and in life, and so many other pithy and heartfelt observations.
Part of my task of these nights is to construct or predict stage chemistry, and it never fails to amaze me how naturally it happens. I guess I can recognize professional stage performers and trust that they get what I’m doing, in the moment and on the fly. They do, even with initial reservations.
Robbi and Sarah did that, and they found some remarkable, to us all, parallels. Trombones, opera, two kids, etc. The electricity between them was very cool.
Here’s the best part. You can’t beat this ending. Sarah’s boyfriend Mike proposed to Sarah on stage (very tastefully, I might add) with a big ole ring. Folks were stunned, amazed and moved by it all.
How do you follow that with a song? We did a fairly feeble My Girl and closed out another special evening of some deep, deep musical life.