Saturday 11 September 2021

Aretha And Me - Review

The Pheasantry, London


Patti Boulaye

Patti Boulaye’s cabaret Aretha And Me, is as much a glimpse into Boulaye’s own life story as it is a tribute to one of soul music’s most astounding singers. Offering us glimpses into a childhood that saw her bear witness to the horrors of the Biafran War , through to her teenage arrival into London and a whirlwind entry into musical theatre and then a recording career, Boulaye’s journey is a testament to both faith and talent. Her faith is important to her, but so too is the bedrock of her conservative family values and the respect and love that she shows, not just for her familial roots but in her manifest pride in her husband, children and grandchildren, runs through her cabaret patter like a stick of rock.

Notwithstanding Boulaye’s personal strengths, the evening is of course about classic songs, sung to perfection and if Aretha Franklin was the Queen Of Soul then Patti Boulaye is her heir apparent. She takes some of Franklin’s most memorable musical highlights – and one or two lesser know gems including a spine-tingling Nessun Dorma – and delivers them with a consistent level of flair and genius, that it is impossible to fault her singing. Boulaye gets the evening going with some crackers including Think, I Say A Little Prayer and Son Of A Preacher Man and with a mixture of pre-recorded backing tracks and live piano accompaniment, Alan Rogers her musical director, provides impressive support.

But it is in her soul interpretations that Boulaye holds us all in the palm of her hand. Her take on Amazing Grace and Etta James’ signature recording At Last (of course covered by Aretha) leave one moved way beyond expectation – while her second act opener of the Habanera from Carmen Jones is quite simply a delight.

Boulaye is taking her show on the road throughout the autumn – Go see her, you will not find a finer voice touring the land!

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