I went out to the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts at Long Island University on 4/11/15 with two friends from work, Karen and David. We made the trek for a concert by cabaret singer Andrea Marcovicci, an all-Gershwin program. I’d never heard her before, had been hearing great things about her for years.
She was a mixed bag. You know me, I always have to start with the good news: she’s a very skilled performer, she has total ease onstage and conveys great joie de vivre. She and her pianist, Shelly Markham, have a great rapport. She read poems between songs, and her readings were colorful, and, when needed, delightfully terse. Her singing is sometimes tender and lovely and hits the core of the song. Her best singing was in a song that has recently been unearthed, I think it’s called “I was so young”. It was heart-breaking and sincere.
But I think the reason that song was so good was because she didn’t KNOW it, it was fresh and she sang it straight. The other songs she did were standards of the Gershwin catalogue, which I’m sure she’s been singing for years. She does this thing that drives me cray cray - - she delays a line too long. Like she sang, “Embrace me…”, and waited so long before she sang the next line, I wanted to shout out, “MY SWEET EMBRACEABLE YOU!” Frank Sinatra, Billie Holliday, Bing Crosby, all the great pop singers, they toyed with the timing in a song, but they never went too far, they never broke the thread of what the songwriter wrote. Marcovicci was indulgent and it annoyed me.
The other issue is her voice itself. There were moments, many of them, when she sustained a note and it had a raspy edge to it - - then two seconds later the voice was aligned and she sounded great. The voice phased in and out, it was a little troubling. I thought of Annie Ross, a singer I heard at Danny’s Skylight Room about ten years or twelve years ago. She had a dazzling voice in the 50s, clear and tangy, with a three-octave range. Now, all these years later, her voice is about four parts rasp and one part voice, but she delivers a song like a real pro. Annie Ross sang the Victor Herbert song “Kiss me again” the night I heard her, and it was one of the most stunning performances of a song I had ever heard. Marcovicci has a much stronger, more beautiful instrument than Ross, but unlike Ross, she doesn’t seem to have a sense of what her current limitations are.