Monday, November 25, 2013

American Voices at the Kennedy Center

This weekend, I went to see "American Voices" at the Kennedy Center. I usually go there for more classical performances, like the National Symphony Orchestra or the ballet, but this was something more modern. I was mainly interested to see Josh Groban and Alison Krauss, but I was open to seeing the other performers as well. Here is a list of everyone and my thoughts (in no particular order).*

Alison Krauss:She sang "Ghost in this House," which I had never heard before. It was a very moving song, and I really liked it. I was sorry though that she didn't sing "When You Say Nothing at All" which is my favorite song of hers. And I'm not sure why she was wearing a black trench coat on stage: she looked like she had stepped out of The Matrix

Josh Groban: Same comments for him. His rendition of "Smile" was good, but I really like his most famous song, "You Raise Me Up." I also would have enjoyed it if he had sung something in Italian. At the end of the show, all of the singers got together to sing a song, and Groban barely participated. I know you're cool and famous, Josh, but if everyone else is going to sing in a group, you should, too.

Renée Fleming: She is a big name in opera, and she was actually the hostess for the night. I thought she was a great MC: very funny, well spoken, good all around. At one point she was wearing a silly gold cape; I'm not sure who her stylist is, but he/she should be fired, both for that and the pant suit she wore at the end. But I was there for the music, not the clothes, and she does have a beautiful voice.

Kim Burrell: Her specialty is gospel music (she's a pastor!), and I thought she did an amazing job. She actually had the chance to sing twice (most of the artists only sang once), and I was happy I got to enjoy her voice for a longer amount of time. Again, a comment on the clothes: her first outfit enhanced her already large bosom; her second one look like a bedazzled Snuggie (although it was more conservative, which I liked). Anyhoo...All in all my feelings were very positive about her. I'd love to hear her sing Christmas carols!

Sara Bareilles: You may recognize her as a judge from The Sing-off TV show, and her most famous hits are "Love Song" and "King of Anything." She sang Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brook Road" which was fine, but a crowd pleaser would have been one of her own songs. She was dressed as a school girl, with her precious white sweater with a little collar poking out of it and an A-line skirt. She also sang a duet with Ben Folds (see below).

Ben Folds: He also was on The Sing-off , and perhaps that's why he got the chance to sing with Sara Bareilles. Anyway, he's a big name in the music industry, but I think it's more for the business side than the Hollywood side of stardom. He's an average looking guy who always wears these silly sneakers, and I personally think he's better at playing the piano than singing. He engaged with the audience, asking us to harmonize with the song, which was fun. But then he started teasing us, asking us to do harder and faster harmonies, at which point I just started giggling because I got so confused.

Sutton Foster: She is a Broadway actress (and has been on a few TV shows, too). She sang "Anything Goes" which is fine within the musical, but when pulled out of context, it seemed very out-of-place compared to the ballads we heard throughout the rest of the night.

Norm Lewis: He performed a song from "Ragtime" which didn't surprise me at all since that play is about African Americans; the song choice was so obvious it was cliché. He has a very nice voice, but I would have preferred to have heard something more unexpected.

Dianne Reeves: She has a very powerful voice, and I really enjoyed listening to her sing "When You Know," quite a romantic song. Her sparkly red top was very appropriate for the occasion. She had great energy! She also tried to get us to sing along, but most of us were unenthusiastic. We just weren't prepared to sing ourselves in the Kennedy Center!

Eric Owens: He is an opera singer, but while he has a very large voice, I couldn't understand most of the words he was singing. And, no, it's not because he was singing in a different language. He didn't enunciate his words, so it made it difficult for the audience to understand him.

Kurt Elling: He actually was unable to perform that night because he got sick. In his place were two music students, and I was quite impressed! The girl played the bass (my favorite instrument), and the young man sang "All of Me," which I associate with the movie "All of Me" from the 1980's.

*This note is a disclaimer that I am not an expert in any musical genre, and my only real interest in music is singing along to country music when I'm driving in my car. Obviously I don't know much about music because I was just as interested in their clothing as I was in their songs. So, take this post with a grain of salt, and I recommend that you listen to all of these performers and make your own judgements yourself.

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