Monday, December 26, 2016

Darlene Love at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill

Darlene Love was born Darlene Wright in East Los Angeles, California, but moved with her family when her preacher father was offered his own church in San Antonio, Texas. She began singing in school glee clubs, and when the family moved in 1956 to Hawthorne, California, she sang in the church choir. She was a high school sophomore when she was invited to join a female vocal trio called the Blossoms. Beginning in the 1960s, Love had a few hits under her own name, but mostly sang on studio recordings by the Blossoms, the Crystals, and Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans, and as background for Sam Cooke, Cher, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Rivers and other lead singers. Love also sang with Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, Bobby Darin, Bill Medley, Nancy Sinatra, Dionne Warwick, the Beach Boys, and many others. By the 1980s, Love was working at a dry cleaner and as a maid in Beverly Hills when she decided to give music another try. Now working solely under her own name, she performed live in clubs, on television (notably on David Letterman's Christmas shows from 1986 to 2014), and on Broadway (Grease, Carrie, Hairspray, Leader of the Pack). Love was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 and told much of her story in the Oscar-winning 20 Feet from Stardom in 2013. Her most recent album is 2015's Introducing Darlene Love. Love lives in Spring Valley, New York.

Darlene Love returned to B.B. King Blues Club & Grill tonight as part of her annual Christmas series there. Seemingly miraculous at age 75, Love sounded as youthful and energetic as when she recorded her best known songs more than 50 years ago. Backed by a full band that included horns and backup singers, Love reprised the hits of her youth and songs from her most recent albums, often with curious anecdotes as introductions. The older pop tunes sounded much like a listener would expect, but the newer songs showcased a broader range, particularly in the darker lyrics of "Forbidden Nights," a song that Elvis Costello conceived for an unfinished Broadway musical. The holiday songs were both secular and religious, with the showstopper being the song she said was Letterman's favorite Christmas song, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," where Love's vocals were uncanny in enormity and richness. Despite the odds, Love's annual concerts seem to grow stronger each year.

Visit Darlene Love at www.darleneloveworld.com.