It was a champagne (or at least bubbly punch!) send off for the artists from friends and fans at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage on Saturday, May 12. Local musicians Stephanie Coleman, Jeanne Ward and Sandra Whitworth each launched their new CDs at a special concert on the stage.
“So much work and time went into these CDs,” said Bill Carriere, a member of the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage Board, “that it was wonderful to see all these people come out to support our amazing singers.”
Stephanie Coleman, who first performed at the stage over three years ago, led off the evening.
Appearing very confident on stage, Coleman’s strong clear voice is a beautiful instrument. Accompanied only by a violinist, she relied on her guitar and her lyrics to convey her themes and ideas.
I would describe her style as a vibrant mixture of country and folk. Her songs reflect her interest in the challenges one must face in any relationship. “This road is hard/We’ll walk it together…Best foot forward/There’s better times ahead.”
She joked that she had to use on stage notes (“I really did write all these songs!”), as she shared her amazing musical talent with an appreciative audience. I found Coleman’s very lovely “Every Road” the perfect ending to her set.
Jeanne Ward, a seasoned performer, who worked with Easy Pickins, and is now striking out as a solo artist, starred in the next set.
Backed up by bass, guitar, drums and sax, with vocal support from musicians Marc Muir and Barb Ward, Ward opened with what she laughingly described as “my one and only rock song,” an upbeat number called “The Way Out.”
A singer with a broad vocal range, blessed with a mellow, easy soprano, Ward’s musical style is fairly unique. She swings from rock to thoughtful folk, each approach chosen to best reflect her themes.
Ward performed one of her older, popular compositions, “Painting Walls” then segued into a joyful, optimistic love song (with Marc Muir) about how “Love will come to you if you call it in. And it might just save your life.”
At ease on stage and with the audience, Ward was a delight to hear.
Sandra Whitworth closed out the concert with a set that was versatile, unexpected and fun.
She was a little bit country in “I Live on a Country Road,” a little bit bluesy in “Hound Dog Home” and a little bit (my description) Brazilian beat in “What Kind of Fight Do You Have in You.”
Whitworth’s voice is equally versatile, more into the alto range, and well suited to numbers like “Hound Dog Home”. Marc Muir of Cornwall, and a group of talented musicians backed her up during her set. Although she confided before the concert that she was nervous, there was little sign of that as she delivered great music in “Kite on a Line” or (with Jeanne Ward singing accompaniment) charmed the audience with “To Be More.”
In one of her songs, Whitworth sang “It takes a lot of courage/ To say what you mean..”
Those words seem to sum up the honest, the sincere, the often beautiful words and voices of these three new artists.
Look for the new CDs by Sandra Whitworth, Stephanie Coleman and Jeanne Ward.
It’s worth the search.