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Music Can Feel like a Saving Grace and a Lifeline
Seven acclaimed Australian divas, Lady Cool, Joy Yates, Amanda Easton, Liza Ohlback, Liz Tobias, Evelyn Duprai and Dahlia Dior came together in a concert event at the Sydney Opera House to pay tribute to the late Ella Fitzgerald, otherwise known as 'The Queen of Jazz'.
Ella Fitzgerald is famously regarded by some as the greatest jazz singer of all time. Her unique style, enchanting sound, combined with humility, humour and generosity make her one of the greatest influences on singers of all races and genres.
With more than 40 million album sales and a 13 time Grammy Award winner, Ella's music played throughout the world. Her music stands the test of time because it moves the human emotions through unforgettable melodies and meaningful lyrics.
This year marks Ella Fitzgerald's 100th birthday and this concert was to honour the 'First Lady of Song'. This two-hour concert was held at the Sydney Opera House on 6 May 2017 and it gloriously featured popular jazz songs from the Great American Songbook, with each artist performing individual sets with a live band. It was a fantastic musical program featuring classics like "Lady is a Tramp", "Mac the Knife" and "Cheek to Cheek".
Amanda Easton was the first diva to perform and her alluring entrance heightened the expectation of this concert. She effortlessly led the audience into the mood with these beloved classic tunes, "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man", "Cry Me a River" and "Lady is a Tramp".
Next was Liza Ohlback, who is the winner of 3 Chain Awards from the Australia Blues Awards in 2013. Her amazing voice can "howl, growl or soothe your furrowed brow" and the songs. "Since I Fell for You", "Summertime" and "Blue Skies" thrilled the audience.
And who could be more Ella than Dahlia Dior? Her sassy delivery was sophisticated yet fearlessly bold in songs like "Nice Work If You Can Get It", "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "Stompin at the Savoy". It was a bewitching performance.
Then we had the extremely talented jazz/soul singer Evelyn Duprai. Her beautiful silky voice sounded astoundingly a lot like Ella in songs such as "Our Love is Here to Stay", "If I Were a Bell" and "Georgia on My Mind". She is a remarkable singer who has been performing as a soloist both locally and abroad with Australian Jazz legend, James Morrison. What joy it was to hear this woman sing.
Joy Yates sang sensationally in "Cheek toCheek", "The Man I Love" and "Too Damn Hot". Clearly, Ella was an inspiration to Joy, she put feeling into the songs and the audience was completely mesmerised.
Liz Tobias was the next impressive diva. She has won multiple intentional jazz awards and Quincy Jones described her as a "breath of fresh air on the world jazz stage". She returned to Australia from the US, especially for this show. Her positive energy enlivened this concert with heartfelt songs like "You'll Have to Swing It", "Everytime We Say Goodbye" and "A Tisket a Tasket."She literally brought the house down.
We thought the show couldn't get any better, then Lady Cool graced the concert with glamour and excitement. Her delivery of "Sophisticated Lady" was fun and sassy and she certainly captured Ella's whimsical nature in "Misty Blue" and "Blues in the Night". The audience was certainly in for a joyful performance. I noticed several audiences were sing along with Lady Cool. If the space was big enough, I suspected some of the audience would happily stand up and dance away with the music.
The event culminated in a finale featuring all the divas performing together on stage. The concert ended on an extremely high and the audience wanted more.
Ella was a supporter of many charities and in 1993 established the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation. It was fitting to see this concert supported Lifeline, a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services. $5 from every ticket goes to the Lifeline charity to raise funds and awareness.