Singer Evokes Legend at 'The Music of Whitney Houston' at Powell Symphony Hall

By Johnson, Kevin C | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), May 19, 2013 | Go to article overview

Singer Evokes Legend at 'The Music of Whitney Houston' at Powell Symphony Hall


Johnson, Kevin C, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra had concertgoers dancing in the aisles of Powell Symphony Hall two years ago with a special "The Music of Michael Jackson" event.

A similar feat was pulled off Friday night at Powell with "The Music of Whitney Houston." And it took place, as it did with the Jackson tribute, without resorting to a potentially distracting big- name guest performer.

Doing Houston justice Friday night was Rashidra Scott, who has appeared on Broadway in "Sister Act," "Hair" and "Avenue Q," and who graced Stages St. Louis and the Muny a few years ago.

In the ultimate moment of proving she was up to the task of an evening singing Houston's songs, Scott opened with the song most people consider to be Houston's best and most challenging, "I Will Always Love You."

For her bold choice, Scott, wearing a long black gown, quietly walked out and stood in the corner of the stage under a single spotlight. She sang the first verse a capella, as required, before the Symphony's swelling sounds, conducted by Brent Havens with a saxophone solo by Eddie Williams, swept her onto center stage.

All involved, which included a band as well, nailed the song.

Pulling off "I Will Always Love You" so successfully gave Scott free rein with Houston's material, and she treated it well. To her credit, she stuck to Houston's delivery of the songs rather than trying to make the songs her own by adding liberties.

The Symphony was just as crucial an element, and never disappointed. Throughout her career, Houston attracted the industry's top music producers, who often gave her mainstream, cookie cutter tracks that weren't always up to the high quality of her voice. But in the hands of the Symphony, the music took on a fresher, plusher and fuller sound.

Scott said early on she was humbled, floored and excited to cover Houston's work, and that Houston helped her find her voice. …

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