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Black gold from La Brea to Little Carib Theatre
Chanteuse Vaughnette Bigford’s inaugural performance in Port-of-Spain played to a packed house of fans from all over the island. The event took place at the Little Carib Theatre, Woodbrook a fortnight ago and was breathtaking in its splendour.
Bigford had the audience in awe from the moment she began to sing, beguiling them with her smoky, husky voice and warm manner. The Little Carib Theatre lent itself to an air of intimacy, fostered by the way she addressed the audience as if each person was a personal friend of hers.
Welcoming her audience, the La Brea diva said the Little Carib Theatre was a wonderful space to be in. “I get to see everyone’s face and I’m grateful you chose to spend the evening with me.”
Her supporters had come from as far as La Brea and were in full voice following each of her performances. Bigford’s vivacious personality shone through as she bantered with her band, vocalists and the audience throughout the two and a half hour concert.
The song genres ranged from Broadway classics to classic pop to calypso to folk to African songs and rhythms. Bigford’s expansive repertoire included Old Devil Moon, Dindi, Tell Me About It, Carnavaleando, where she was accompanied by Rhona Rogers on maracas, Don’t Dream It’s Over, River Of Tears, Moon Valley, In Times by Black Stalin, Won’t Have to Say Goodbye, To Love Somebody, Let’s Go Dancing,
Evening Time, Esperança, Putting Up A Resistance, Just Another Melody, Home/Nah Leaving, Luv Up, Reason, Lady, Lady Marmalade, Born To Shine and Miriam Makeba’s Pata Pata.
The simple stage set with five band members and four backup singers ensured that nothing distracted from the beauty of the music. The musicians themselves were of the highest quality and included Michael “Ming” Low Chew Tung (keyboards); Rodney Alexander (bass); Theron Shaw (guitar); Anthony Woodroffe Jnr (flute and sax); and, Shaquille Noel (drums).
Each band member played several solos during the concert and had the audience applauding their artistry each time. Guest appearances included Rhona Rogers on maracas accompanying Bigford on Carnavaleando, Mikhail Salcedo’s powerful tenor pan accompaniment on Black Stalin’s In Times and John John Francis’ solo cover of Like It Like This by Kes & Patrice Roberts. Francis had the audience sweating, despite the in-house AC being at max, and wining in their seats with his smooth sultry vocals and dance moves.
Highlights included a powerful acappella arrangement of Carl Jacobs and Ancil ‘Perez’ Forde’s Luv Up by Low Chew Tung performed by Bigford and her backup vocalists (Genisa St Hillaire, Afiya Athill, Sade Sealey and Aneesa Paul); Fela Kuti’s Lady, which she dedicated to Hugh Masekela; Beres Hammond’s Putting Up a Resistance, which Bigford infused with conviction; Born to Shine, the title song of her debut albun, which many audience members said spoke to them; and, Khalen Drummerboi Alexander’s Reason, written especially for Bigford and which she dedicated to all her friends and fans. Her closing number, Miriam Makeba’s Pata Pata, had the entire balcony and most of the lower house on their feet, dancing and singing along.
Bigford thanked the patrons for accepting her, acknowledging that she could be complicated at times. Audience members were immediately heard asking when the next concert was going to be and those who were seeing Bigford for the first time, confessed to being awestruck. The production was an unqualified success and it is to be hoped that the songstress continues to grace all of T&T with her talent.
A memorable footnote of the event was the wonderful introduction of Bigford at the show’s start by popular radio personality Adrian Don Mora, using the singer’s intitials VB, to succinctly describe her.
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