Ok, I know I’ve been writing a bit about Stevie in the past few weeks, but what can I say, Stevie’s been on my mind. No man crush or anything, he’s just Stevie and well that’s my man and dawgonit this is my blog.
Last night I watched Stevie receive the Gershwin Award from President Obama.
As a major Stevie fan, you could probably guess that I am a little critical watching others perform their rendition of a SW track. I know it’s not right to compare a non SW version to the original. Performers should bring their own style to the song and if it works great. If not, well I’m gonna talk about you! But not in public, I try not to be a hater.
Some of the artist’s who paid tribute include Tony Bennett, Diana Krall,and Paul Simon, a past recipient of the award.
I thought I would mention a few performances that stuck out.
India Arie, is just perfectly suited for Summer Soft. This wasn’t her best performance, but there is a genuine love for Stevie. She has worked with Stevie on many occasions in the past and I always feel her respect and appreciation for his contributions. You can just feel the love!
The intro for Higher Ground, you don’t find funk like that now a days. I was surprised that the gospel duo Mary Mary was selected to perform this classic. I have to say, if I had a chance to perform with Stevie, this would be my choice. While I enjoyed their rendition, they chose not to stray from the original. If you never heard the Red Hot Chilli Peppers version you should check it out, it’s a head banger full of their mentor George Clinton’s, hot stankin’ funk – so be careful.
The most noteworthy performance from those chosen to pay tribute would have to be Esperanza Spalding’s version of “Overjoyed.” Straight Fire! Overjoyed has been one of my favorite Stevie jams ever since I heard his performance on Saturday Night Live several years before the song was released on the In Square Circle album.
The SNL performance was simply Stevie on piano and full vocals. I always thought this version should have been released on an album. His vocals were flawless.
Esparanza Spalding who is a jazz musician and vocalist took this song and blessed it with a old school jazzy vibe with a hint of Latin flavor. I thought so much of her performance I had to grab the laptop during the show and search for her on Youtube. Seriously folks, if you are not a Stevie fan (ouch!) you should check out the show for her performance. I’m hoping she covered this on an album or will do so in the future.
Stevie closed the show with Signed Sealed Delivered and Superstiscious
So with all of that said I will stop the Stevie coverage/comment until March 10, 2009 with the release of Live At Last! – a DVD concert from a 2008 performance in London
I want to take my girls to a Stevie concert someday, so in the meantime Live At Last! will have to do.
Now go on over and watch the performance from PBS – Library of Congress Prize for popular Song.