Little lady Lynnie Godfrey shows big personality/voice in cabaret at Symphony Hall

6a00d8341c4fe353ef019b002570b2970cSinger Lynnie Godfrey charmed a sold-out crowd last night during her first appearance in Symphony Hall’s Rodale Room as part of its Jazz Cabaret Series.She brought it all – fabulous dresses, theatrical savvy, witty banter, a crackerjack backing band, a powerhouse voice and a selection of popular classic songs presented in uique style.

Sheila Evans, Symphony Hall Executive Director, addressed the audience happily.

“I can’t tell you how much fun it is to post a sold-out sign on the front door,” she said.

Jazz Series head Ethel Drayton-Craig introduced Godfrey with a long list of her credits, which include a Drama Desk nomation for her Broadway debut in the musical “Eubie” and a starring role in “704 Hauser,” the Norman Lear sequel to “All in the Family.” Godfrey moved from New York to the Lehigh Valley a few years ago and has been creating a stir ever since.

The expectation was high and Godfrey met them from the moment she made her dramatic entrance from the back of the room in a hot pink sleeveless gown, shouting “Hello,” “Hello,” “Hello” as she worked her way through the tables to the front of the room.

The more than two-hour concert, with one intermission, featured nearly two dozen songs with focuses on Johnny Mercer and Ethel Waters. Godfrey introduced most songs with some background.
She opened with a songs by hitmaker Mercer, starting with “Accentuate the Positive,” and including “Jeepers Creepers “ and “Moon River.”

A series of what she called “boo hoo ballads” included “Lush Life,” “Guess Who I Saw Today” and “Cry Me a River.”

Then things turned more upbeat — “It’s time for us to fall in love again,” she said — with “L.O.V.E.,” “When I Fall in Love” and “The Best is Yet to Come.”

An interesting turn came with her performance of George Harrison’s “Something in the Way She Moves,” a contemporary song not part of Godfrey’s traditional songbook.

She ended her first set with a growly version of “Fever” that showcased her large vocal range, and the zippy “It Don’t Mean a Thing.”

Godfrey’s second entrance was as dramatic as the first, coming through the room in a snug black and brown striped halter dress with a black and pink feather headdress.

Numbers included “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” “Bye, Bye Blackbird,” “Good Morning Heartache” and “God Bless the Child.”

She got “down and dirty” with songs by her main inspiration, Ethel Waters. Godfrey does a one-woman show of her songs.

She started with a dramatic “Stormy Weather,” then got teary and choked up during “Suppertime,” an Irving Berlin song about a woman about to make supper for her children when she learns her husband won’t be coming home because he’s been lynched.

She ended her main set with what she said was her favorite, the gospel song “His Eyes on the Sparrow,” and returned for two quick encores.

Godfrey made it a fun evening with jokes and stories. At one point, she got the crowd laughing as she did a “little something” for Bill Steele, owner of Mr. Bill’s Poultry, which provided the light meal for the evening. A couple times she held some long notes, encouraging the audience to encourage her to keep going. Over and over again she expressed appreciation to the audience, which included family and many old friends.

Godfrey is a little lady with such a big personality, it was easy to forget there was music behind her, but there was a talented band – Gary Rissmiller on drums, Roger Latzgo on piano, Gene Perla on bass and Tom Hamilton on saxophone.

The band is working with her on her first CD, which she expects to have out in early 2014. The concert was sampler of what to expect.

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