Sydney Festival - Sing The Truth

The State Theatre in Sydney was home to Angélique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves and Lizz Wright last night.  Three beautiful voices shaped and moulded songs from women who have inspired them – Billie Holiday, Odetta, Abbey Lincoln, Joni Mitchell, Lauryn Hill, Ani DiFranco and Miriam Makeba – and made them their own.

Developed from the one-off tribute to Nina Simone (Sydney Opera House, 2010), Sing The Truth now encompasses a wider source of music and songs, most notably Mamma Africa herself, Miriam Makeba.   Beninoise singer-songwriter Angélique Kpasseloko Hinto Hounsinou Kandjo Manta Zogbin Kidjo, commonly known as Angélique Kidjo, has inherited the crown from Makeba.  She weaved three of Makeba’s hits through the line up giving the evening a sharp edge to the smooth jazz vocals of Dianne Reeves and Lizz Wright.     

Lizz Wright is from a small town in Georgia (the US one not the Russian), and is the daughter of a minister and musical director of their Church.  Her gospel infused jazz and RnB vocals are deep and rich and her duet with Reeves soared as they gave the crowd a glimpse into a Southern gospel concert with an upbeat message on Canaan.

Dianne Reeves was born in Detroit and bred in Denver by a very musical family who introduced her to the music of jazz singers from Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan to Billie Holiday.  When she moved to Los Angeles her interest in Latin American music grew and she experimented with different kinds of vocal music.  She showed this vocal mastery last night with her rendition of Ani DiFranco’s 32 Flavours.  It was magnificent.

You cannot hold one of these singers above the other, the blending of their talents and voices with a fantastic backup band, gave us a truly beautiful evening of music that brought you with them into the songs and left the audience spellbound.