Ann Hampton Calloway.
Photo by Bill Westmoreland
The Streisand Songbook
The Louisville Orchestra
Featuring Ann Hampton Calloway
Bob Bernhardt, Conductor
Review by Annette Skaggs
Entire contents are copyright © 2016 Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved
Admittedly, as a vocalist and lover of the stage and screen, I like Barbara Streisand. So much so that in my early days of my vocal training/college years I would pop in one of her cassette tapes (remember those?) and belt out one of her hits in the rehearsal studio, just to prep myself for the opera/art song repertoire that I should have been working on. It isn’t surprising that upon doing so I would get chided by a professor that could hear me across the building and sternly remind me of what I was supposed to be doing in that room. I was a wannabe Diva in training.
“Babs” had that title in the bag quickly, having gone from small basement club in Manhattan to singing to sold-out audiences and playing kissy face on the screen with some of Hollywood’s most handsome men. She has inspired many imitators and given us a deep discography filled with songs from some of the best songwriters of our time: Rogers and Hammerstein, Marvin Hamlisch, Ann Hampton Calloway.
If you have not heard of Ann Hampton Calloway, she is multi-talented, much like Barbara. A songwriter/lyricist, pianist, jazz vocalist, are among her many talents, so, it is not surprising that she would choose to frame her concert around the songs of her idol, including songs written by Ms. Calloway herself.
To say that she is comfortable on the stage is an understatement. She absolutely knows how to communicate with her audience and the orchestra and she does it with ease and a bit of fun. Integrating personal life stories along with bits of trivia and life tidbits of Streisand between songs made for an informative and entertaining evening.
While her voice leans more toward Liza Minelli, she certainly encapsulates a similar styling as Ms. Streisand while not imitating her. And it is clear that she is into Jazz as demonstrated by her ability to scat (including a funny moment that she invited the audience to sing along). There were a few times that I felt that the range and key of some of the songs should have been changed to better suit her, as Ms. Calloway reached a few times. Nevertheless, she performed with aplomb.
An exciting highlight occurred when Ms. Calloway asked the audience for themes and ideas that she could use to form an entirely new and original song; right on the spot. With the help of our hometown crowd we were given a delightful little ditty about a woman jockey named Jennifer Lawrence who meets bourbon maker Hunt at the Seelbach’s Rat Cellar (despite several attempts to correct that to Rathskeller, Ms. Calloway still heard Rat Cellar). The couple then went to White Castle, only to part for the evening, but then later fall in love and marry, all in the key of C.
With the Orchestra’s brilliant accompaniment and enjoyable selections from A Chorus Line and Chicago, Saturday evening was a blast. Not to mention, Maestro Bernhardt was his usual comedic self.
The Streisand Songbook
January 16, 2016
Whitney Hall, The Kentucky Center for the Arts
501 W Main St
Louisville, KY 40202
Annette Skaggs is heavily involved as an Arts Advocate here in Louisville, and is a freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boulder, Little Rock, Peoria, Chicago, New York and of course Louisville. Aside from her singing career she has been a production assistant for Kentucky Opera, New York Opera and Northwestern University. She has a 25+ year knowledge of the Classical Arts.