Sunday, February 3, 2013

Rene Marie, not to be missed!

For a long time I didn't know who Rene Marie was. I didn't know that she'd been singing all her life. Nor did I know that her career didn't really begin until she left her marriage at the urging of her son. She was 40.

What I did know was that every time I heard a song by her, I liked her more. Learning that she was going to be at the Hamilton last week was a no brainer. The show couldn't have been better. It was a mixture of old and new material, standards and originals. It exemplified the risk taking that has marked her career.

She began the set with raunchy version of the title tune of her latest release, Black Lace Freudian Slip. It got everyone clapping and displayed the talents of her rhythm section Kevin Bale, piano, Elias Bailey, bass and Quentin Baxter on drums. She got the audience singing along to Just My Imagination part of her Imagination Medley.  And she thrilled the audience with her version of Skylark.

The highlights of the evening were two new originals: Blessings, a song inspired by her late brother Claude and This Is Not a Protest Song, which she wrote about homelessness. (It can be purchased on her website and all proceeds go directly to National Coalition for the Homeless.) Both songs showcased her talent as a composer.

She concluded with the patriotic medley from her release Voice of My Beautiful Country. If you wanted to sing along to your grandma's version of America the Beautiful or Lift Every Voice and Sing, you would be disappointed. With new instrumentation, it was possible to hear them in a new way. This portion of the program was highlighted by solos by Quentin Baxter and Kevin Bale.

I can't say enough about the talent of these musicians. Returning for an encore, a song about where the time had gone and the hope that we would all meet again. If you haven't seen her, please do. It's a gift that you can give to yourself. Until you catch her live, here is a video of her below. - By Deb Morris


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