These ladies sing the blues.
And the standards, spirituals and soul songs, too. Toss in a few operatic arias and some jazz melodies and you’ll have a concert that can only be sung by 3 Mo’ Divas.
Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, Laurice Lanier and Jamet Pittman make up the virtuosic trio that will harmonize at Proctors on Valentine’s Day. They’ll serenade lovers, both romantic and musical, in a revue that embraces every genre shaped by vocal chords.
“This show is a great experience for the audience,” said Lanier, the mezzo-soprano in the trio. “I’m not just saying that. People really feel great when they see the show.”
So, too, does Lanier, who said she has been waiting for a concert like this, one that could show off her range.
“I’m an opera singer. I’m classical trained,” said the 29-year-old from Jackson, Tenn. “But I’m a preacher’s daughter. I learned to sing in the church, gospel, blues, jazz. I want to sing every single genre. I didn’t want to only do classical. This show was made for me. When I heard about it, I knew it was an opportunity of a lifetime. I got chills.”
Still, classical is Lanier’s forte. She has performed on Broadway in Baz Luhrmann’s production of Puccini’s “La Boheme” and at Carnegie Hall as a Leontyne Price Showcase Winner. A graduate of the Juilliard School, the songstress also sang leads in “Semele,” “Dido & Aeneas,” “The Tender Land, The Mother of Us All” and “The Magic Flute.”
On Thursday, she’ll sing “Quando M’En Vo” from “La Boheme” and “Mon Coeur S’ouvre à Ta Voix” from Saint-Saens’ “Samson Et Dalila.” She will go on to belt out standards from musicals such as “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Wicked,” “42nd Street,” and “Rent.” Songs by Duke Ellington, Marvin Hamlisch, Cab Calloway, Quincy Jones, as well as a finale of spirituals and early rock tunes, round out the concert.
Of all that she sings, Lanier says she is most touched by her solo rendering of the Billie Holiday song “God Bless the Child.”
“I just feel this song relates to my life,” she said, speaking by phone from her base in Jersey City, N.J. “It’s my life story.”
Lanier said that much of the Diva repertory is electrifying to her and the audience. Sparks fly, because she and the other divas love all of the music. In addition, she, Gonzalez-Nacer and Pittman, strike just the right balance.
“We’re divas, but in a good sense. We really love each other. We get along well. We have a chemistry. We blend and try to give people a good show.”
She has been giving people a show since she was 10. In her father’s United Methodist Church, she sang solos in the choir. Scanning the faces in the pews inspired her to build a career around her voice.
“Just the feeling of getting on stage, watching people’s reaction, giving them joy,” she said. “When I think about it, I get excited.”
She never saw an opera until she was 14 years old. (“We lived in Tennessee.”) It was summer camp that really opened up her music world. She attended Hartwick College in Oneonta and Interlochen, where at both locations she was named Outstanding Musician.
After graduating from South Side High School, she left for New York City in 1997. She graduated from the Juilliard School in 2002 and went on to win several international competitions. She won the Barcelona Award at the Hans Gabor Belvedere International Singing Competition. That has led to requests to sing at New York City Opera; La Scala in Milan, Italy; and the Royal Opera House in Stockholm, Sweden. Menna Feenstra, the artistic director in Stockholm, has said “when Laurice sings, she makes you forget the bad in your life.”
And on this tour, music critic Colin MacLean called Lanier’s voice “warm and enveloping.” He also wrote that her interpretation of the spiritual “His Eye Is on the Sparrow,” was sung “with grace, elegance and sheer gut-busting emotion.”
Lanier says it’s easy to perform well with the divas as everyone, from the tour manager to the stage crew, “are as close as a family.”
On stage, she said, its shows.
“This is a show that definitely needs to be seen,” said Lanier. “It’s old-school theater with raw talent. You’ll say ‘Wow.’ ”
3 MO’ DIVAS
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday
HOW MUCH: $27 to $40; $10 off for 17 and younger
MORE INFO: 346-6204 or www.proctors.org
Categories: Life and Arts