The "Downtown" and "Don't Sleep in the Subway" girl never takes a song on its own terms. She sculpts each and every phrase and makes it her own, imbuing it and the song with her own brand of communication.
Though she has a wide variety of styles at her disposal, I personally like those which called for positive, forceful treatment and where great tension was called for. Fortunately, she is able to inject this into the larger proportion of her songs, the most notable example of which last night was the "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar.
This is a song that has already been done at least a half dozen times this year at Blossom, and I can truthfully say that Petula Clark's version came the closest to greatness.
She had kidded briefly about not being the Mary Magdalene type (she's petite and blonde), but her interpretation of the song, the emotional force and drive were exactly right. Here was not just a popular excerpt from a currently popular work but a thing of vast unsentimental power.
Her vocal style is her own and is quite unique. She likes to play with the "upper neighbor" (this is not hanky-panky - it's a melodic device) and not settle for the actual note until the very last moment. She can spin this trick out to almost excruciating lengths which are not troublesome but provide true dramatically intense moments.
Her pianist and bandleader was Frank Owens, who last night had a stage band of some 25 players, many of them Cleveland Orchestra musicians, providing the musical backdrop.