Joan Osborne, the sultry siren, is performing at Dimitrou’s Jazz Alley for three more nights. This is a residency you don’t want to miss. Last night she walked on stage and belted out a beautiful and soulful rendition of “Little Red Corvette” in a tribute to Prince who passed away yesterday. Since the trio didn’t really have enough time to practice an entirely new playlist they sprinkled the rest of the evening with a few more Prince hits which even included expertly reading some of the lyrics from a cell phone. I think they really showed the dedication and love they wanted to convey. The concert was masterful and fun in all respects. We were also treated to many old favorites as well a brand new song that Joan wrote for the legendary Mavis Staples. Don’t miss this concert! Get tickets here!
Check out our interview with Joan Osborne below:
How did you feel when you heard about the passing of Prince?
It’s such a shock. What a great loss it is. He meant so much to so many people, and it’s very difficult to put into words how important he was musically and as a cultural icon. I am mourning with everyone else and at the same time celebrating his life and all that he accomplished.
Could you tell me about the show you are bringing to Jazz Alley?
Of course! It is a trio. It consists of Keith Cotton, Jack Petruzzelli and I. Keith plays keyboards mainly and Jack plays guitars mainly. I have worked with these guys for many years. I think I have known Jack for over twenty years. We have worked together a long time and he co-produced the last two albums I put out. We will be doing some songs from both of those records as well as “Relish” to celebrate its twentieth anniversary re-release. It is very interesting to me to do it with a trio as opposed to a full band. It is a very nimble sort of setup. We can experiment a little bit. As a singer, there are some interesting subtleties you can get into with your singing that really only work with a small group. They tend to get lost with a full band. This is just a little different animal. I think it is the perfect setup for a room like Jazz Alley.
How did it feel for you to perform with Mavis Staples?
Oh gosh! Mavis is one of my music idols. Her voice is just so beautiful and powerful. It is surely a gift from God. When I first started singing, she was one of the people that I really tried to emulate. I just fell in love with her voice. Then there is her history as part of American music. The Staples Singers were one of the first groups to cross outside of the gospel world and into wider more popular acceptance. The Staples Singers were also right there with Martin Luther King and provided some of the songs that became the soundtrack of the Civil Rights Movement. Those records that they made in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s were giving us the idea of what we could be as a loving, open, accepting society. I feel that their songs really gave voice to that impulse. They were very influential on me. Mavis is still going strong and creating really interesting music. It is a real inspiration for me; being someone who wants a long career and to be in this business as long as possible, to see the way that she has continued to be this vital important artist. She is just a very kind and generous person as well. Getting to know her as a person was really a dream come true for me.
How does it feel to celebrate the 20th anniversary of your album “Relish”?
Well, it actually feels really good because the songs themselves have stood the test of time. When I wrote them twenty years ago, I was really trying to create something I was interested in performing. I think we really hit on something that had a quality to it that wasn’t just the ‘90s. The songs seem to hold up to a lot of different interpretations when we perform them in all different venues and situation. They have been really great to play for audiences over the years. The twenty year thing is a little funny because it doesn’t seem like it has been that long to me. I also feel a touch of pride that I have continued to have a career for all of these years. Not everyone gets to make a career in this industry. I feel very fortunate.
Quite a few of the songs on “Relish” are a bit dark and almost haunting. I know that you co-wrote most of them. Are any of them particularly autobiographical?
Well in that sense that I always look to my own life experience and the life experiences of the people around me for the little details that make a song come to life. In that sense, there is autobiographical material woven through all of it. I am not necessarily a confessional songwriter in that I am telling stories of exactly what happens to me. I am using bits and pieces of things that I feel will resonate with other people. It doesn’t have to be an exact retelling of something that happened to me. It does have to have that sense of reality to it of things that are real.
What qualities do you think makes a good blues performer?
I think there is a certain depth of emotion. You have to be able to let go. You have to let the songs fill you up and sort of live through you. I feel that is a prerequisite for a lot of music but in particularly the blues.
Who were your main musical influences growing up?
Well, I used to sing a lot in the school chorus. I had a great teacher, Carolyn Browning. She really gave me some challenging things to work out on my own. She used to take me to singing contests. She kind of singled me out and was really supportive of me. I really have to thank her for that. She gave us some fairly difficult things to learn for our age group. She gave us four and five part harmonies that weren’t easy to learn. I think learning about harmonies and these musical things was a great learning experience for me growing up.