Read about the stunning voice and performance of Natalie Douglas in her cabaret at The Cray Coqs on the singer Nina Simone.
“..variety and fun, which might not be expected in a tribute to Nina Simone..”
Natalie Douglas, another winner of many awards in the States, debuted her tribute to Nina Simone yesterday evening at The Crazy Coqs. Natalie has been listening to Simone since her childhood and even then was noted for singing her songs in the playground on the swings, including Oscar Brown Jr’s, and Nat Adderley’s ‘Work Song’, where her mother needed to explain what a chain-gang was.
There is a danger with tributes that the artist paying it can become over-reverent, and if the adored subject had a difficult life, of the show becoming too dark and heavy. Natalie avoids this by good balancing of songs including jazz, blues, protest and even gospel, but most of all by the choice of her patter and her own charming and child-like personality, giggling with us when things went wrong and enabling us to feel at ease and comfortable with her.
Not to mention her voice! Despite a heavy cold, it is huge! She also has excellent microphone technique, essential in that small space.
But the thing impressed me most about Natalie was her artistry in particular songs. Her take on ‘House of the Rising Sun’, covered so many times in its long history, is both unique and intriguing. Starting quietly, questioningly, she builds to a rousing crescendo and then ends dark. Most outstanding, however, was the achingly touching ‘You Can Have Him’ –heartfelt and heart-breaking.
In amongst the well-known numbers e.g. ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ and ‘I Loves You Porgy’ and the protest songs of the ‘60’s and 70’s, Natalie skillfully inserted the amusing ‘Forbidden Fruit’, illustrating Nina’s playful side and encouraging audience participation.
Special mention must be made of her superb pianist and Musical Director Mark Hartman, whose powerful commanding playing brought loud appreciation from the audience.
The evening provided variety and fun, which might not be expected in a tribute to Nina Simone, and the Monday night audience loved Natalie Douglas for it. This artist is well worth making the effort to see in this cheerless weather.