Friday, February 29, 2008

3 Mo' Divas: Worth Crawling Outside Your Comfort Zone

Recently I had the privilege of hearing "3 Mo' Divas" perform when they visited my city's exquisite performing arts venue, the Peace Center. I knew little about the act, other than it was an outgrowth of "3 Mo' Tenors," which grew out of "The Three Tenors." The website, http://www.3modivas.com/, attested to the talent of the six women who perform alternately in this musical celebration conceived by Broadway writer/director Marion Caffey. But it was when I got a sneak peak of the evening's repertoire that I knew I couldn't miss it: everything from Puccini's "Vissi D'Arte" to the Angels' "My Boyfriend's Back."

To say that I got my money's worth is an understatement. Laurice Lanier's rendition of "Strange Fruit," complemented by Jamet Pittman's haunting harmonies, had me in tears, while the gospel numbers that wrapped up the show had the entire audience ready to be baptized all over again. Unfortunately, that entire audience amounted to a mere few hundred souls. We were lost in a 2100-seat auditorium that was filled to capacity for Tony Bennett, James Taylor, and Anne Murray. So why didn't the Divas have a full house? Because we are creatures of habit, and we are loathe to wander outside our comfort zones. Like "poetry," the word "opera" makes most people shudder and take two steps back. Apparently, as soon as Upstate residents started reading French and Italian song titles, the words "Boring! High brow!" flashed in their brains and they moved on to the movie listings. What a tragedy for both sides! Those amazing ladies sang to too many empty seats, and anyone who wasn't in one of those seats missed the best concert I've heard in that venue.

"3 Mo' Divas" is currently touring the country. If they come anywhere near you, see them or you'll regret it.