The Return Of Maysa
Multitalented entertainer comes back to Chicago to deliver another memorable performance at City Winery
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DURING the past two-plus years, Grammy Award-nominee Maysa has proven to be one of the favorite performers at City Winery, and her latest stop at the venue was another clear example why her Chicago fans wait with anticipation for her to bring her entertaining show back to the area.
Following an October appearance as the featured singer with the group Incognito at City Winery, Maysa returned for a recent solo show where a big surprise was waiting for her on a cold and snowy Saturday night. “[Because of the weather], I thought I would be singing for six people, so thank you for coming out in the snow,” she told the applauding, sold-out crowd. ”But then I know that snow doesn’t stop anything in Chicago. I just love it here!”
Before the applause subsided, the show was underway with tunes such as “Bring Your Lovin’ Back to Me,” “In the Bottle,” “I Will Wait for Higher Love” and Sly & The Family Stone’s “Family Affair,” a fitting tune because Maysa’s dedicated fans are in a way like family––devoted, supportive and reliable. Those fans got a real treat when the Baltimore native and former backup singer with Stevie Wonder delivered her song “Am I Wrong (For Lovin' You?)”––complete with an extended display of her scatting skills that would have made Ella proud and also serves as a distinct indication that she is still evolving as an entertainer.
After recently celebrating her 26th year as a solo recording artist, Maysa is still producing the unique sound that embraces jazz, soul and R&B. Her extensive repertoire takes her from the jazzy “Out of the Blue” (a song about the birth of her son) to Peabo Bryson’s soulful “Feel the Fire” to the Grammy-nominated “Quiet Fire” to the standard “What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life,” a tune made popular by both Barbra Streisand and Sarah Vaughan, and a song Maysa dedicated to “everyone in love or who wants to be in love––like me.”
There are perhaps few performers who are better than Maysa when it comes to balancing the songs in her show with time spent engaging the audience by sharing poignant moments from both her professional and personal lives, especially her experiences involving relationships with men. Those experiences, for example, prompted Maysa to write songs about the heartache in her life. Before beginning the song “Motions of Love,” she said: “It’s time to talk about my exes. I’m not male-bashing; I’m him-bashing because he hurt me.” She got more detailed and descriptive before launching into her hit “Hypnotic Love”: “I was about to meet a man that I had talked to over the phone for seven weeks, and just before he could have all of this, I found out he was married. I’ll share my house, my car and maybe a cheeseburger, but I don’t share men. I’ll just wait on my prince to come.”
Perhaps such personal episodes led Maysa to do her version of the Pat Benatar song “Love Is a Battlefield,” which is the title of her new CD and includes a collection of Maysa’s favorite songs done by other artists. She has redone those tunes and put her own signature on them. Benatar’s upbeat version has now become a soothing ballad with Maysa extending the focus from that of a loving couple to spotlighting the apparent rise in hate associated with the current political and racial climate.
In a successful career that has taken Maysa to many locations in the world, contemporary issues have found their way into the music of the Morgan State University graduate, who primarily has been characterized as a smooth jazz artist. But her fans know there is another side, and at her performances, they anticipate her popular medley of old-school, dance tunes. At City Winery, she didn't disappoint. She rocked the night with an extensive collection of upbeat songs that included “Last Night A D.J. Saved My Life” (Indeep), “Must Be The Music” (Secret Weapon), “Take Your Time Do It Right” (S.O.S. Band), “Just A Touch of Love” (Slave), “I Need Your Lovin’” (Teena Marie), “Love Rollercoaster” (Ohio Players), “Heartbeat” (Taana Gardner), “Ring My Bell” (Anita Ward), “Candy” (Cameo), “Flashlight” (Parliament) and “(Not Just) Knee Deep” (Funkadelic).
By the time Maysa settled things down and ended the show with the classic “Deep Waters,” she, again, had made another indelible mark on the crowd at City Winery.
"I'll share my house, my car and maybe a cheeseburger, but I don't share men. I'll just wait for my prince to come."
Smooth jazz/R&B star Maysa, a former backup singer with Stevie Wonder's Wonderlove, showcased her repertoire during performances at City Winery.
For more information on Maysa, her tour and her merchandise, go to www.maysa.com.