July 24, 2021

Dee Dee Bridgewater, a woman of many skins

Dee Dee Bridgewater – 14/11/2017
Fernán Gómez Cultural Center of the Villa, Madrid

The singer Dee Dee Bridgewater (Memphis, 1950), one of the great jazz ladies of the last decades, visited Madrid during the presentation tour of her new album, with all the capacity sold weeks before. Under the title Memphis … Yes, I’m Ready, this work is a tribute to the radio that shaped her musical memory, with which the singer discovered the music that has influenced her career: the greats of blues, soul, rhythm and blues, jazz …

It had been three years since Bridgewater had passed through Madrid and everything was prepared on stage to receive her like a diva: a bouquet of flowers, a jug of water, a mysterious thermos – which perhaps contained some magical elixir, judging by the energy that develops the singer- and, in their positions, the six members of the Memphis Soulphony. To top it off, a bombastic presentation by the keyboardist Dell Smith, followed by powerful sounds of soul and rithm and blues to warm the hearts of the Madrid public. And Dee Dee made her appearance with a hat and glasses, like a star.

The singer’s gifted and skilled voice gave life to Born Burnt Biscuits, Going Down Slow, Giving Up o Can’t Get Next To You, between long paragraphs in which he explained with enthusiasm and theatricality how life passed in his hometown, under the omnipresence of radio and black music. His stories were not lacking in demands for civil, feminist and social rights, in which the previous joy was transformed into gravity and anger, while hat and glasses disappeared from his outfit to show his shaved head.

By now they had already joined Monet Owens Y Shontelle Norman, the two choristers who completed the band for the rest of the concert. And with them sounded the great themes of Al Green, Ann Peebles, Bobby Blue Bland, Otis Redding, Big Mama Thornton, Tina Turner O Elvis Presley -whom he imitated with great grace-, with memorable moments, such as the exciting three-part performance of Why? (Am I treated so bad), that popularized The Staple Singers, and above all BABY, of the soul star Carla Thomas.

Bridgewater stages the songs, brings them to life and fills them with sensuality, vindication or emotion, as appropriate. The stage is his and in it he demonstrates his mastery of the show, as in the moment when he put the audience on their feet to dance and sing with B.B. King and his You Know I’m Free, Baby. It is clear that she is not an ordinary woman and that she has many skins, all tanned and exciting.