Sometimes, everything aligns to create that perfect moment. International Women’s Day marking the opening night of Lady Sings the Blues was one of those moments. As the full-house crowd filled the Melba Spiegeltent in Gluttony, it was clear that something special was about to happen. The feeling of the wooden floors, the mirrored walls, the central stage; everything was perfect.
From the moment that Prinnie Stevens opened with “It’s a Man’s World”, the crowd were mesmerised. In a shiny silver gown, ridiculously tall silver heels and flowers in her hair, she commanded the candle-lit stage. An antique microphone completed the look.
Between songs, Prinnie told stories of courageous women of the blues as well as personal anecdotes. A proud indigenous and Tongan woman, Prinnie gave a moving “Welcome to Country”. She explained that the elder women of the past paved the way for the present. The stories of the blues singers from the past fitted into the whole narrative.
Referencing Billie Holiday and her turbulent childhood, she covered “God Bless the Child” with a voice that belies her diminutive stature. Prinnie was bought up with a gospel singing background and this energy and enthusiasm allows her full expression of everything from Holiday to gospel.
From Billie to Beyonce, she promises, and weaves songs and stories to both celebrate and educate on the path that singers of colour have laid for the children of today. The sad demise of Whitney Houston, the racial discrimination that Ella Fitzgerald endured and the story of Billie Holiday performing a song about lynching. That song, “Strange Fruit” was banned in most places, but that didn’t stop her from performing it to raise awareness.
Accompanied by a grand piano and double bass, Prinnie’s voice is really the star of the show. She may sing the blues, but she’ll shake the blues away. A superb evening, with a delightful singer in a magical tent. A project that is clearly dear to her heart will surely win her many new fans.
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Prinnie Stevens performs “Lady Sings the Blues” in the Melba Spiegeltent in Gluttony for the Adelaide Fringe
Dates: 8-13, 15-20 Mar at 6:30pm tickets here