Samirah Evans’ delivers an upbeat performance at the Northampton Center of Arts

The acclaimed jazz artist gets guests grooving

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Collegian File Photo

By Samourra Rene, Collegian Staff

The non-profit Northampton Center for the Arts (NCFA) provides an affordable space for artists, performers and educators, as well as a variety of educational and community-based programs that focus on the arts.

On Saturday, the organization held Revelry at 33, a fundraising event aimed at providing a festive affair and joyous gathering for supporters and members of NCFA. Jazz artist Samirah Evans provided live music.

“We chose [Evans] because she is a local artist that had the right kind of vibe we were looking for, classy and fun,” NCFA Managing Director Joanna Faraby Walker said.

Evans is a talented and enthusiastic singer who has shown dedication to her craft. She makes each song her own by remastering the spirit of a song, infusing it with her own authentic sound. Her best assets include her soulful voice and energetic stage presence. When she is on stage, you can’t help but react to her contagious bright energy by grooving on the dance floor. Evans’ expressive voice is rooted in jazz and blues, a musical nod to her New Orleans background.

It was fitting Evans opened her two-hour concert with a rendition of Pharrell’s 2013 smash pop hit “Happy,” as the concert was titled “Happy Feet,” a clear beacon of celebratory joy expressed in the language of dance and movement. Evans took the NCFA on a joyous musical ride, delivering a diverse musical anthology by weaving in renditions of disco jams, contemporary music and soulful songs.

The opening rendition of “Happy” effectively had people getting off their feet moving along to the bouncy rhythm, blissfully nodding their heads to the happy ménage à trois of cheerful beats, ebullient vocals and lovely harmonies. This opener was a wonderful way to set a lively mood that kept the audience smiling from ear to ear. Evans’ upbeat mood is infectious, and for a moment, your problems seem to disappear as you indulge yourself in the remarkable remedies of good music.

One of the song highlights of the performance was Evans’ reggae rendition of Adele’s “Hello.” The agile interplay between the beats of the drums and bass gives the song a new essence and vibe. Evans and her band turned the classic ballad to a sensual jam. Evans intensifies the dynamics of the song by changing the pace of vocals. She will sing the song slow enough for you to hear every syllable but will then accelerate. She will change speed and deliveries maintaining a smooth tone that keeps you on guard for the multiple musical transposition in the song.

The next memorable performance was the rendition of the famed classic Carl Carlton 1981 song “She’s a Bad Mama Jama.” Evans delivered the groovy lyrics with upbeat light heartedness while delightfully executing the brilliant bass line.

Evans transported the audience to a sophisticated and modernized version 60s folk festival as she wove the lyrics to Jackie DeShannon’s 1960 hit “Put A Little Love In Your Heart” while the guitarist swapped out of the soft acoustic guitar notes for an eclectic performance, containing a fast tempo, crisp electric guitar notes that blended in with the classical saxophone and keyboards.

“What a beautiful voice,” Ronald Ackerman, a guest at the Revelry at 33 said of Evans. “It is amazing the way the band blends their voices together.”

These sentiments were felt across the room as the crowd danced the night away.

Samourra Rene can be reached at [email protected]