March 2005

Global Divas
An International Celebration of Women and Song
benefiting St. Stephen's Community House
March 31, 2005KoolhausToronto

Astride the cello, her bow points to the sky — the band blares.

'Gutbucket cello', I thought, as Jorane willed us into her music with deeply bowed lines and a full-on dramatic delivery. She's so driven.

But on this evening of songs, we also appreciate that it is Nidia Moya who sang with a sensitive attention to the lyrics of her bolero and clavé-based songs. And we remember how glady we participated in the fresh energy of Laura Ocampo singing "Caramba" in a lilting 6/8 rhythm.

Ndidi Onukwulu stood strong. She's got a contemporary look and feel to her, but she's working the true vein of the blues — The Cry. She's at one with it, and she's accompanied and protected on her journeys by Madagascar Slim whose electric guitar speaks in sheets of sound.

Dione Taylor already has a lot of years in her young career. In her version of the Eurythmics' tune, "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This", she demonstrated her taste and musicianship by slowing the tune right down to a ballad sung in a Cassandra Wilson-like manner. Dione's a new voice and talent in the jazz community. She's already sung for U.S. President, George Bush. We'll be hearing more from her.

All the singers are Canadian. Laura Ocampo is originally from Argentina; Nidia Moya from Havana, Cuba; Jorane is a Montreal favourite; Ndidi Onukwulu is of Nigerian heritage and was born in British Columbia; and Dione Taylor hails from Regina, Saskatchewan.

It was a real pleasure to hear 'live', the evening's 'house band' — Jane Bunnett's The Spirits of Havana, which provided harmonic and rhythmic support for all the singers. The group is David Virelles piano, Kieran Overs bass, Ethan Ardelli drums, Alberto Suarez percussion, Larry Cramer trumpet and fluegelhorn, and Jane Bunnett on soprano saxophone and flutes. (Incidentally, pianist David Virelles is one bright talent to watch.)

And that was that — the third annual Global Divas concert, a diverse celebration of women and their songs.

I liked the songs. And I celebrate the singers.


Dione Taylor
We welcome your comments and feedback
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Report by David Fujino
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Photographs by Roger Humbert

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