By Holli Harms
Thank you, dear Universe for giving us Natalie Joy Johnson! An entertainer with a bawdy, raunchy, and unflappable presence and voice that can do it all! She moves through a song as she pleases, with the greatest of ease, moving the air with sounds and lyrics emanating from her uncommon grace and naturalness. She dances with her voice like the fine-tuned machine that it is. She can with her voice conjure the goddesses!
The evening titled “Twerking” was filled with songs turned on their sides, from cabaret to Broadway musical to Rock and Roll. Twerked and tweaked, fine-tuned and lifted, she could conquer any note, any bridge, she seemed to be making up vocals on the spot instead of only covering them. Johnson and her pianist, and accomplice for the last 15 years, Brian Nash, gave the lucky audience members one hell of a show.
Her banter with her old and new fans was hilarious and present. More than once I thought, as I fell over with laughter, “She did not just say that!” She is a positive energy filling with joy in both the room and each of us who were there to witness. She sang with a full heart and overfilled soul. Her song list took us to the high and low places of human existence. They were songs of men and women living in small worlds and making do with what they were given. Embracing sometimes their minute existences, and other times dismissing their sadness.
Johnson brought such depth to The Police’s “Roxanne”. Depth and pain and respect for a woman who sells her body for money.
There were songs from Working, the musical, which is based on the Studs Terkel book by the same name. The book was his compilation of interviews he had with men and women working in diverse jobs throughout the country, waiters, waitresses, mill workers, office workers, and housewives all talking about their jobs and lives. In Johnson’s hands, the songs “The Mason” and “Just A Housewife” took on a depth that is not on the sheet music. A great beautiful intense depth that created room for each of us to travel the journey with her.
Natalie Joy Johnson ended our all too short evening of delight with a walk through the audience clinking a glass to each of us (I mean every single audience member), and with each of us toasting in return in celebration of the evening, to her and Nash, and,
To all of us!
Til we meet again!
You will be able to see Natalie this year in the musical Lempicka which is headed for Broadway, previews beginning in March.
The Green Room 42 YOTEL New York Times Square 570 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036