Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday Night in Stuyvesant Town: Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens at The Stuy Town Oval

This evening we saw a truly wonderful show by Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens, part of the Music on the Oval series, six summer Wednesday nights at Stuyvesant Town.

It was really filled with love, the only free outdoor concert we've gone to in New York where we got hugged by the main performer.

Alabama's own Naomi Shelton was once regarded as a secret queen of soul and known only to hardcore collectors of lost funk 45s. A Friday night residency at Manhattan's Fat Cat club, and a record on the Daptone label, exposed Shelton and her Brooklyn Gospel Queens for the world to admire.

We took the L train two short stops, a familiar ride since it's the one we take to get to work at the School of Visual Arts and to our frequent visits to the Stuy Town Starbucks and Walgreens (we love national chains). So we got to The Oval early, in time to hear DJ Greg Caz, one-half of the Brazilian Beat Brooklyn DJ team, Greg Caz spin a set of gospel tunes and watch people of all ages gather.

Around 7 p.m., the start of the show, it began to rain, and several us in the audience put up our umbrellas,

but the showers were light and short and eventually we saw the first patch of light blue sky and puffy white clouds all day. That's Gospel music for you. And Naomi and the Gospel Queens are the best.

She's a humble woman despite her brilliance as a performer; she made sure to make everyone in the audience feel comfortable (though she didn't hug everyone!) and that they're really in the spirit of the show's music. We think everyone was.
Here's a mini-documentary on her done for Caught in the Act on Brooklyn Community Access TV (BCAT):

Each song was better than the next: "I'll Take the Long Road," "You Lift Me Up," "A Change Is Gonna Come," "What More Can I Do?"

and our favorite, the album's title cut, "What Have You Done, My Brother?"

She was simply sublime. And the individual and collective vocal styling of the three Gospel Queens is impressive.

It was impressive how at the end, she thanked the Gospel Queens, everyone at Stuy Town (which she said she'd never been but had found beautiful today and will be back), and most of all, her beloved fans and new fans in the audience. Naomi gave heartfelt thanks to the security guards, which is something performers rarely do. She's a great lady and wonderful to see in person.

You can see her tomorrow, actually, in downtown Brooklyn, part of BAM's MetroTech R&B Festival at noon. If you're able to, you should catch Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens while they're playing close to home.

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