It’s been nearly a week since Jennifer Hopper, took the stage at The Neptune Theatre in Seattle, yet I am still buzzing from the concert. I’m sure the four hundred plus people in attendance would agree with me that it was the kind of night that just sticks with you.
Adding to the magic was the inclusion of two-time Tony Award winner, Norbert Leo Butz. Yet again, Norbert gave of his amazing talent and vocal range to get us both boogie-ing down with his rendition of Otis Redding’s Try a Little Tenderness to his “please-pass-the-kleenex” rendition of Patti Griffin’s Goodbye on the piano.
Then there’s the band itself. Led by the fabulous, and now Tony-nominated, Michael Moritz. Michael plays the piano like he’s the love child of Elton John and Professor Longhair, but with the voice and suave style of Harry Connick, Jr.
Last, but by no means least, is Jennifer Hopper. It’s hard to describe the sheer beauty of her voice. Perhaps our special surprise guest, Brandi Carlile, said it best. As she joined Jennifer for a song onstage, Brandi said “Jenny, all these singers and artists you’ve been singing tonight and talking about…they all have one thing in common with me. And that is, you could sing any one of us under the table.”
Brandi then hit the first few chords of Calling all Angels as the crowd exploded into applause. Suffice to say you, could hear a pin drop in that room, bar the hoots and hollers as Jennifer and Brandi’s voices wove together like an antique quilt. It sounded raw and exquisite at the same time.
The night was filled with countless moments like that. With Jennifer using the instrument of her voice in a range so wide, it’s hard to categorize her as a singer or performer. There’s an angelic quality to her voice. A smokey deepness at times. And a power and a command so precise, you can understand why her mother once told me that Jennifer always made people cry when she sang, even as a little girl.
In a world where we maintain relationships on Facebook, have conversations in text bubbles on our iPhones and experience most of our communication on a digitized landscape, it becomes even more important to gather together in a room, to hear music being played live. To hear the emotion, the joy, the sadness and the whole damn range of the human experience played out in song. It takes us back to a place of just being. Of connecting in a way that is more real–that sustains us and brings us hope and joy.
To me, that’s what last Friday’s concert at The Neptune was, a moment in time of real connection. Between the band members and each other. Between the players onstage and the audience.
It’s what great music and the Angel Band Project has always been about. My only regret is that I can’t just hit play on my iPhone and find myself back in that moment again and again and again.
That just means, we need a repeat performance. Chicago? New York? Who’s next?
Written by Jean Purcell, Angel Band Project co-founder