Channeling the freedom of Ella Fitzgerald’s jazz vocals and Michael Jackson’s passion, Amel Larrieux scatted, ran (vocally) and poured her bird-like vocals into Chicago’s City Winery on Friday. With two sold-out shows, 7p.m. and 10 p.m. on Friday, April 8, Larrieux gave the audience both music and sage advice about relaxation through yoga and meditation along with healthy diet ideas.
“Apple cider vinegar in everything! She knows,” Larrieux said exclaiming to the audience and motioning towards her daughter on keyboard, Sky Larrieux. The audience laughed and exclaimed in agreement while enjoying their wine. Most had stopped eating dinner to give the songstress their undivided attention.
Mixing up-tempo songs with sweet slow harmonies, Larrieux along with the accompaniment of a 4-piece band, showcased her vocal range with newer songs and classics alike throughout the show.
She played with the audience in her classic “For Real” where she hit high notes with ease and asked the audience to sing along.
“No, don’t clap for me," she teased. "You sing it!”
There was a noticeable shift of the mood in the room during this song. A few songs before, she moved from the bittersweet sounds of “Giving Something Up” in which she talks about the troubles of everyday life, bills and following ones dreams to the national civil rights anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Later she took the audience back to her 2009 classic “Don’t Let me Down.”
“I got so much on my plate/I’m scared to take another bite... /Why would you think I would recognize/Something that’s never been mine,” she sang.
Sweet harmonies swelled from the keyboard mid-song as she begged that her lover not to let her down. The song was in opposition to Larrieux’s current state of affairs. Her husband and manager, Laru Larrieux, was sitting by the sound crew along with their youngest daughter and make-up artist/ marketer Sanji-Rei Larrieux. Before singing her classic “Make Me Whole” Larrieux explained that this song was the embodiment of her love with her husband. She thanked him for enabling her music career. “I get to be here with my two true loves,” she said after explaining the connection between her love for music and her love for him.
“I think the angels are your bothers/They told you about me/Said you’re just what she needs.”
At the end of the night, Larrieux graciously thanked the audience for coming, her band members. The crowd slowly emptied out in high spirits and inspired holistically.
Catch Amel Larrieux in Washington, D.C. May 27 at The Hamilton and in Nashville July 15 at the Nashville City Winery. Check out future tour dates on her Bliss Life website.