I had never heard her live before, but she has a big, sensational, soulful voice and a terrific stage presence. It was a perfect night, and she had lots of people dancing and clapping by the end of her 90-minute show.
The daughter of Rufus Thomas, Vaneese paid tribute to early soul and R&B singers such as Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Denise LaSalle, and Tina Turner with such songs as "Tell Mama" and "Nutbush City Limits," as well as some standards by Otis Redding and Booker T. and the MGs. Vaneese made sure to credit each artist, display their album cover or picture on the big screens, and tell us a little about their background.
It was one of those only-in-Memphis nights when good things seem possible. Thanks to Kirk Whalum and Carla Thomas for sitting in, and to Barry Lichterman and everyone connected to the Levitt Shell who made this season happen.