updated on July 22 with file photos
The concert hall on the Freewinds is adorned, all in black, from floor to ceiling. The ceiling twinkled with stars to give the hall an airy, outdoors feel. No surprise there. This is the “Starlight Cabaret.”
I make my entry into the performance space to the strains of Santana’s Grammy trove, Supernatural, which is fitting because Dominica’s supernatural phenom is on stage - in character with the room - all dressed up in a lovely black gown with silver flowers to the left side of it.
The Freewinds Band (file photo)
The band kicks off from the starting line with “Freedom” before delivering Bob Marley’s ”one-drop” reggae anthem, One Love.
Not wanting to keep the beat too steady, Michele takes a stab at the men in the house while hiding behind the lyrics of “Natural Woman.” If anyone can handle a benchmark Aretha Franklin hit, it is Michele. And few singers in their right minds would even dare attempt an interpretation of Aretha, in public.
Michele Henderson and the Freewinds Band (file photo)
Michele makes it known at this juncture that Billie Holiday is one of her favourite singers and then promptly unleashes a seething rendition of a Holiday staple, God Bless the Child. Many a Jazz musician has done this standard with aplomb, but Michele’s version is no less a keeper.
Marley gets a second treatment as the Freewinds Band brings us back home to the Caribbean with Waiting in Vain. Right after that, they turn around on a dime to pay tribute to Alicia Keys by doing I keep Falling in fine style.
Staying in the R&B vein, Michele and the Freewinds Band hop across the North American border to channel Celine Dion for That’s the way it is.
Now it dawns on me that whereas many find it challenging to do just one classic song, Michele eases through a bunch of them. Imagine dropping Aretha, Billie, Alicia and Celine in one shot; and then topping it off with Stevie’s “Superstitious.” These are all songs that demand incredible range and flawless phrasing.
Talking about vocal dexterity: Michele closes her show with the Freewinds Band with (I can recall) Spain, a song that calls for a loose tongue and immaculate tone. I could not help but recall Al Jarreau’s take on this song to judge Michele by. She acquits herself extraordinarily well on this one too. She does not let down!
Never miss out on any opportunity you get to catch Michele Henderson, Dominica’s own, anywhere near you.
Michele Henderson on flute (file photo)