ONE RAELETTE'S JOURNEY
Conceived, Written and Performed by Cynthia Scott
Reviewed Performance 3/13/2014
Reviewed by Chris Jackson, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
“May the work that I’ve done speak for me.” Cynthia Scott
Grammy Award nominee Cynthia Scott is a consummate entertainer. She loves what she does, she loves sharing with an audience, and it shows. An overflow crowd welcomed her One Raelette’s Journey with open arms and hearts. Using the premise that the audience was early and that she was getting ready for a performance, she talked to the crowd as intimately as if everyone had been seated around a table comfortably enjoying some time with an old friend.
Born in Arkansas, one of twelve children to a bishop of the Holiness Church, she grew up surrounded by music, singing in public from a very early age. She moved to Dallas after high school to become an airline stewardess where she also began to sing in local clubs. A telephone call at five in the morning from Ray Charles himself gave her an opportunity to become one of the Raelettes, the backup singers with him and his band. This unexpected gift gave her the opportunity to travel the world. According to her story, she was fired after two years for not “playing ball” with Mr. Charles, apparently one of the unwritten conditions of her contract shared by all the Raelettes. As she tells it, this was the best thing that could have happened because she then began a serious career as a jazz singer in clubs, finally settling in New York where she stayed for years.
Her story, as presented to the audience, was accompanied by slides and original songs, helped along with a few props such as phone, candles and a makeup kit. She spoke of her early years growing up in the church with her father, mother and siblings, and interwove her many experiences into the fascinating evening using her time with Ray Charles as a touchstone, or milestone, finishing the evening with the touching tribute to her mother’s fight with Alzheimer’s disease.
Her trip to West Africa as a Jazz Ambassador gave her the opportunity to conduct master classes and workshops wherever she traveled. The slides used throughout the evening amplified and punctuated the stories, giving concrete visuals to her journey.
Her story and the dialogue was fascinating and moving and helped set the time frame of her life, but it was her singing that truly made the evening magical and special. Possessing a warm and well-trained alto voice with years of technique learned “on the road” and in her many cabaret and club performances, she cast her spell over her audience and pulled them in close. “Dream for One Bright World” used her experiences working with the children of West Africa and elsewhere to plead for education, tolerance and understanding. The moving “Do I Know You?”, pulled from her mother’s bout with Alzheimer’s, left not a dry eye in the house, and the rousing “If the Shoe Fits” rounded out the evening with everyone clapping along. Finally, there was her affirmation that had everybody doing a call and response to “”Release your pain, let it go, set it free!”
Closing as though ready to actually take the stage for an evening’s show, she changed into a sequined gown and pulled the show together in one, big, final love fest, an evening not soon to be forgotten, presented as a gift by a true performer.
ONE RAELETTE’S JOURNEY
Final performance on Saturday, March 15th at 2:00 pm