By the way the audience was looking: happy, excited, and tipsy from the bottles of wine and champagne and feeling full from a hefty meal, everyone looked right at ease, anticipating the powerhouse vocals of actress and singer/songwriter Cynthia Erivo.
This amazing talent is one award away from joining the exclusive EGOT club. In 2019, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of former slave turned abolitionist Harriet Tubman. She also received a nod for Best Original Song, “Stand Up” written by her and Joshua Brian Campbell. She should have won! Her show at the Hollywood Bowl last weekend
consisted of well-known songs, from Barbara Streisand (“Don’t Rain on My Parade”) a whole lot from the late legendary Queen of Soul singer Aretha Franklin (“I Never Loved a Man, (The Way That I Love You,”) and (Ain’t No Way”.) Erivo knows her Aretha songs well. She portrayed Franklin in the limited National Geographic television series “Genius: Aretha.”
In the first hour, the English beauty walked barefoot across the stage decked out in a gorgeous, white dress, with puffed out sleeves, a sweetheart neckline, gold earnings, wearing her trademark shorn blond hair, infectious smile and dynamo vocals, that makes Grammy-award winning artist Beyoncé sound like a little girl at her first performance. I’m just saying! Erivo explained earlier that the songs she performed were from female singers, except for “I”, by legendary Welsh singer Tom Jones and “Fragile” by Sting. A little bit of Roberta Flack (“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”), Sinėad O’Connor (“Nothing Compares 2 U,” written and sung by Prince) MJB (“My Life”) and a memorable cover from former Eurythmic lead vocalist Annie Lennox, “Sweet Dreams” with a hint of soul supplied by a Faith Evans tune. It was an outrageously well designed cocktail of pop and R&B. Undoubtedly, the best song of the night.
She performed two songs from her upcoming cd, out on September 17th, titled Ch. 1 vs. 1, (Verve Records), also available on Apple Music and Amazon. You can hear sniffles from the audience trying unsuccessfully to hide their raw emotion Erivo evoked with her tearjerkers “You’re Not Here” and “Good,” and
it felt cathartic. She couldn’t keep from crying herself. It’s the power that she radiated from her heart and soul which made a beautiful connection with the audience. After the tears were wiped away, she made amends by closing the night with Franklin’s 1985 hit “Freeway of Love.” Once again, the audience stood up and clapped with such fervor, making her return this time wearing a fuchsia and black dress with a tight black corset with zippers.
Erivo was exactly what we all needed. Comfort, reflection while prompting good self-care. Her tears from earlier signifies pain being released so the healing can begin. She is next in line on being the new a Queen of Soul. I think Ms. Franklin would agree.