Exquisite vocalist Melba Moore has been on the fence as a singer throughout most of her four-decade-long career. She is known to some as a Broadway actress-singer having won a Tony Award for her show-stopping turn in “Purlie” in 1970, as well as starring in the original Broadway production of “Hair” a year earlier.
But to so many others, she is a multi-Grammy-nominated recording artist whose songs have embraced the entire American songbook from jazz-standards to Broadway show tunes with heaping helpings of gospel, disco, R&B and dance-club music all the way!
Kicking off her spectacular performance last Friday with a rousing version of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” Moore had the audience eagerly joining in with her as they sang that stellar African-American National Hymn – the song was officially entered into the Congressional Record two decades ago. With the resounding majesty of a gospel-church choir, the song’s echo lasted all night long.
Although there was no band or live musical accompaniment throughout the evening, it really didn’t matter. Singing along to pre-recorded backing tracks, Moore’s exceptional charm and charisma was all that was needed. She beautifully performed everything from the classic “Stormy Weather” (a heartfelt tribute to the late Lena Horne) to many of her own hits including “This Is It,” “Lean On Me” and “Love’s Comin’ at Ya.”
Moore’s appearance at Proctors was a benefit concert to raise funds for the Hamilton Hill Arts Center in Schenectady. The 41-year-old non-profit organization has been creating and supporting a variety of arts and music programs to promote and educate the regional public in the richness and beauty of African and African-American cultural arts.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
An excerpt from David Singer’s review in The Daily Gazette: “‘Before playing this one let me wet my whistle, ’cause Ella Fitzgerald ain’t no joke.’ Moore sang an uptempo scat that you would never expect from her. She scatted several rounds, enough to realize she didn’t have a few rehearsed scat-tricks, but was a genuine scat singer who had a large vocabulary here. The theater crowd rose to its feet for its third time in less than 20 minutes.”