Black's Revival revives the Motown sound; Canadian Idol 'mentor' is on tour with her new hit album

15-May-2008 | SHARE:

In Concert

Jully Black

Where: Commodore Ballroom, 868 Granville St.

When: Saturday night at 9:30

Tickets: SOLD OUT

There might not be an official title for her, but Jully Black acts as a kind of travel guide on Canadian Idol.

Or, as she thinks of herself, as a "mentor."

Black takes the Idol contestants in hand and offers them advice on how to get through the singing contest without incident.

"I'm just required to be me," explains Black. "I offer shoulder back confidence. Ultimately, I'm not a judge. I'm there to offer encouragement."

Her own experience as a singer has led her astray or into pitfalls. She wants the competitors to avoid these situations and now wishes she had had someone to guide her.

"Oh, there are things I've absolutely learned over the years," Black laughs knowingly. "I'm not saying it's doctrine. I'm just saying I wish someone had mentored me."

With no one or nothing to guide her, Black has relied on instinct and made an album, Revival, her second official release, that has thrown open the doors of possibility.

Becoming a cast member of Canadian Idol is one of those possibilities, but it started before that with the album's hit, "Seven Day Fool." This song cast her as leader of a girl group, not unlike The Supremes during their Motown height, and was as much fun as retro.

On April's Juno Awards telecast, she got to wear the de rigueur girl-group gown and play a part. It suggested someone who was self-aware and had a sense of humour.

The album is like that, too. Before settling into a more predictable contemporary urban soul, Revival's first four songs recall Jimi Hendrix ("DJ Play My Song" could be his "Fire"), Motown (the Etta James cover of "Seven Day Fool"), reggae ("Queen") and '50s balladry ("Just a Moment") and indicate Black is as versatile as she is unpredictable.

"With Revival I wanted a live album," she notes. Most contemporary soul albums feature drum programs and other synthetic designs. "And I wanted to revive the Motown era.

"There wasn't much premeditation involved. It was just the people I wanted to work with [among them Keith Harris of Black Eyed Peas, with whom she toured]. I knew when I got together with those people that magic would happen.

"You can't plan a hit record, it just has to happen," Black continues.

"Revival stands on her own. I think of Revival as a girl, so I call it a her."

The album title isn't a reflection solely of her desire to bring back the sound of Motown or Hendrix or old-school reggae but that of her gospel roots as well as an upturn in her spirit after the death of her sister Sharon. In Toronto, she grew up in the church with a caring that hasn't left her. She remains involved in various charitable campaigns.

"I think the name, Revival, is an affirmation," she says. "It's great, an evolution."

tharrison@png.canwest.com

Credit: Tom Harrison; The Province

Illustration

Colour Photo: Jully Black likes to take Canadian Idol contestants in hand. ;; Caption:

Copyright Southam Publications Inc. May 15, 2008