Monday, March 13, 2017

Beth Hart at the Town Hall

Born in Pasadena, California, Beth Hart started performing her music in Hollywood clubs at age 15, until she discovered the South Central chitlin circuit, where the clubs held performance competitions for cash prizes. By age 19, she held a steady job at a club where she was the only white singer in the club's history. In 1993, Hart had her first national exposure as she rose to win the Female Vocalist competition on television's Star Search. Subsequently, she teamed with Joe Bonamassa, Jeff Beck and Slash, and sang the lead role in Love, Janis, an off-Broadway musical based on Janis Joplin's letters home to her sister. Her greatest exposure, however, came when former president Barak Obama and his wife Michelle gave Hart a standing ovation when she sang Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind" at a 2012 tribute to Buddy Guy at the Kennedy Center Opera House. Hart released her ninth and most recent studio album, Fire on the Floor, on February 3, 2017.

Originally scheduled for mid-February but postponed for medical reasons, Beth Hart once again rose triumphant at the Town Hall tonight. Like the old cliché that says that "you have to suffer if you want to sing the blues," this blues singer spoke to her audience between songs about how she has dealt with bipolarity, substance abuse, eating disorders and several stints in rehabs and psych wards. Backed by guitarist Jon Nichols, bassist Bob Marinelli, drummer Bill Ransom, Hart sang sultry, burnt-honey blues vocals and played jazzy piano melodies when she was not dancing to her more rocking songs or playing acoustic guitar to more sensitive songs. Armed with many originals and a few covers, Hart's passionate vocals brought the blues to rock ‘n’ roll, torch songs and singer-songwriter fare, and also touched lightly on jazz, gospel, and soul. Hart cultivated these ageless music traditions that typically appeal to older audiences, spun them on a new axis, and produced a tasteful performance.

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