From the moment Lorraine Klaasen opened her mouth, the singer brought vibrancy, in every sense of the word, to the otherwise bleak Xerox Auditorium space. Decked out in exciting colors and filling the stuffy hall with full-bodied gritty vocals, Klaasen was riffing and growling with each note. It was clear she was there to have a good time.
And the audience responded well -- she had people dancing in the aisles. Although most of us were confined to seats, you'd have been hard pressed to find a body that wasn't moving in some way. Still, Klaasen's performance style might have been better served in a more intimate, casual venue. Her simple, joyful approach to singing could be perfect for a café or bar setting.
Klaasen's distinct musical style is culturally charged and you can hear the influence of her South African heritage in every note. None of it is manufactured -- she's as authentic as it gets. The personal nature of her performance was particularly apparent in a song titled "Lorraine," a letter written to Klaasen from her mother, set to music.
Above all else, it was Klaasen's storytelling ability that
really made her a show-stopping performer. Although most of the songs she performed
weren't in English, I could still understand every word. Her body language and
facial expressions were loud and clear, emotion emanating through every pore.
Jazz Fest 2014: Lorraine Klaasen
Lorraine Klaasen played the Xerox Auditorium on Friday, June 20 as part of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.PHOTOS BY MARK CHAMBERLIN