It was a dark and stormy night at the Exhibition grandstand Friday. Fittingly, Jully Black blew on to the stage and created a stir before lighting and rain called off her performance after about an hour.
Black strolled the stage with a sexy authority in a radioactive green dress to a dramatic instrumental number.
But the show really started when she put the microphone to her lips and released her brawny, vigorous voice.
Capable of a multitude of vocal tricks, Black only pulls them out for the good of the song. Other divas tend to trill and warble to the point of distraction, but she does not make this mistake.
She's a performer who clearly doesn't believe she has to live on the dark side to be taken seriously. Her stage show is joyful and playful, as are many of her songs. When she turns to more emotional numbers, they can be described as moving, but never sad.
Happy should not be confused with lightweight in Black's case. The youngest of nine children raised by a single mother, you get the sense she earned her place in the world through hard work.
Dubbed "Canada's answer to Mary J. Blige," Black brings a mature depth to the sometimes shallow world of hip hop, and seems to respect the history of R and B.
Black's more recognizable song is her cover of the Etta James hit Seven Day Fool. She should be praised for bringing such classic music to fans who would recognize her as a correspondent on Canadian Idol and E Talk Daily.
Some fan favourites from Friday included Heaven (originally a duet with Nas) and Sweat of My Brow.
While not quite a household name in Canada yet, her reputation and experience in the North American music scene is solid. According to Black's website Destiny's Child and Nas have recorded her songs, and Black has performed with Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Bon Jovi, Josh Groban and Usher. She was an opening act for the Black Eyed Peas.
Perhaps it is these connections that helped her land a strong group of musicians and backup singers for her present tour.
As the crowd saw Friday -- before the show was cut all too short -- it's not just the spelling of her first name that makes Jully Black distinctive.
Tonight is your last chance to see free-with-admission music on the Ex grandstand, as eighties rock champion Loverboy hits the stage at 8:30 p.m.
Credit: Heather Persson; The StarPhoenix
Copyright Southam Publications Inc. Aug 9, 2008