Friday night my wife took me to a Kellylee Evans concert. Kellylee is an emerging artist who gives a jazz twist to a variety of musical genres. I really can’t describe what happened, but I’ll give it a shot.
Energy poured into “The Studio” in the form of a diminutive dame shorn of shoes. She sang with a voice serenely smooth yet strong; soft and strong, her voice invited me in. I crossed the threshold and the door closed behind me. Slowly a table was set. She took music that I might not otherwise imbibe – hip-hop, rap, various genres of music, along with jazz standards – and wound them round her voice, which is as peculiar and precious as scotch – neat with enough peat to pull disparate sounds into a sensual singularity.
She sang, she danced, she transformed a wooden audience into a waving, singing, swinging body. We drank from the same well and became one, if only for this moment of magical escape. But no, that isn’t quite the right word: it wasn’t so much a magical escape as a momentous immersion in the power of music. Here we discovered the joy of being in the presence of Song, in this instance we glimpsed another way of being in the world – a way of joy.
At one moment in the concert Kellylee said: “Thanks for coming out tonight and supporting live music.” Not “me,” not “the band,” not a thousand things you might otherwise imagine. No, she honoured “live music.” It made me wonder how often people encounter music in the flesh. Is our addiction to technology the kiss of death for musicians, for music? Who knows? It seems as if some folk are permanently plugged in – constantly under musical siege. But something different happens at a concert. There is a power in the presence of the songstress and her fellows as they call us to cast aside our control if only for a moment – for a pure moment as they chase the muse where she leads. Something happens in this loss of control, in this gathering around song, in this seeing a new of being in the world – swaying our way into abandoning ourselves to joy. She starred our Friday night.
As I went for a walk Saturday night, I thought of Friday. Kellylee Evans made our night shine. She sang me to the moon, where I could see constellations from a new vantage point. I drank deeply from her vocal well and was wondrously quenched with a new kind of thirst: a wanting more of this wonder at beauty, goodness, and truth, if not Truth.