3 Mo Divas April 11, 2009
By Glen Creason
In the tradition of the Three Tenors, the Irish Tenors and Three Mo Tenors it was the ladies turn at the Performing Arts Center over the weekend and “3 Mo Divas” did not let the name down. These three polished and versatile women covered as many vocal arts genres as a music appreciation textbook. The divas had half a dozen dazzling costume changes, several complicated choreography numbers, sang over thirty songs and even tossed in a spot on impression or two in their action packed two hours on the big stage.
The 3 Divas were Laurice Lanier, N’Kenge and Jamet Pittman; all accomplished and highly experienced musicians trained at places like the Juilliard School and Oberlin College. These women were not destined to be pop-singers but they are certainly not above belting out a funky R&B song or tearing up a blues number with plenty of style.
True to the format they began with excellent readings of high opera from Puccini’s “La Boheme” and Saint-Saens’ “Samson and Delilah” along with some Broadway class in “Style” in tandem or solo. At first they had a cute rivalry going where each lady tried to outshine the other but when they sang as one all that melted away and they created a seamless whole. Each had qualities that set them apart and yet made them a key component of the harmonies. Jamet tore up “Your Daddy’s Son” from the hit Broadway show “Ragtime” then returned to the triumvirate for a nice “Feeling Good” culled from the old gem “the Roar of the Greasepaint.” N’Kenge was terrific all evening but her tribute to the great Cab Calloway was utterly sensational and got the crowd up out of their seats for just one of a few standing ovations on this night. Larece was a tower of dignified vocal strength all night and she made “Downhearted Blues” into a talking up poem that made the ladies in the hall sit up a little straighter. The duet of Larece and Jamet on “Strange Fruit” worked wonders for a song normally owned by Billie Holiday alone.
The entire performance was sweetened and centered by musical director Joseph Joubert who unobtrusively drove the beat a little higher in energy but played like an expert accompanist on the classical portion. He stayed in the background for the most part but his playing just held the entire performance together beautifully. The entire cast here is amazingly versatile. 3 Mo Divas met every challenge and never faltered in any genre ranging from the 40’s swing of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” to the Jazz vocalese of “Harlem Nocturne” to the funky soul of “Best of My Love” Not holding back much they did make the crowd wait for two of the most electrifying songs in the set with N’Kenge’s lead on a rump-shaking “Proud Mary” with a tiny Tina Turner turn and an utterly stirring spiritual “His Eye is On the Sparrow” that was every bit as uplifting as the song was intended. The crowd seemed to love the ladies and laid on the applause almost as strong as the divas sang.