Music can be a source of healing, and the Vail Series did just that.
Grammy and Tony Award-winning jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater helped concert goers escape the present through her vibrant, dynamic set this past Thursday. Accompanied by three other musicians, Bridgewater filled the airways of Swasey Chapel with her one of a kind jazz vocals and unique musical stylings.
Bridgewater opened the set by acknowledging Sean’s passing and explaining the power that music has to remedy all kinds of problems. She also ended the show with a gospel song, reminding the community that it is just as important to feel as it is to try and escape. Her wish for the performance was that herself and fellow musicians could do all of the work and allow the audience to sit back and truly relax.
Bridgewater did this by adding humor to the majority of her show, as she sipped wine on stage and sat on audience member’s laps.
“The best part of her performance was that it was light, funny and captivating. I was completely engaged and distracted through the entire duration of her performance, which was really the blessing we all needed after days of heartbreaking loss,” said Taylor Kern ‘20, an English, French and music major from Baltimore, MD.
Throughout her soul driven tracks, tuneful compositions and smile that seemed to light up the entire room, Bridgewater held nothing back as she danced and sang along to her many covers and originals. Between songs, she provided back stories and informed the audience of her reasoning for singing each.
A notable element of the show for many was her rendition of the Josephine Baker song titled “Don’t Touch My Tomatoes,” which incorporated plenty of humor into the set.
Kern also noted, “She very gradually showed us just how much of a vocal powerhouse she is. Her raspy improv gave way to extremely controlled high notes, not to mention she has a powerful, seductive and hilarious stage presence, clearly a result of years of experience and comfort on stage.”
Apart from the show itself, Bridgewater also met with students and faculty from the women’s and gender studies and black studies departments, as well as an integrated environmental studies class. Additionally, she held a master class with the Denison Jazz Ensemble and their vocalists.
A senior member of the Denison Jazz Combo, Olivia Van Goor, a music and economics double major from Milford, MI, commented, “I had the pleasure of working with Dee Dee on my own jazz skills, and was with her when she found out about the loss of a fellow Denisonian. By changing her setlist and approach to the concert, she gave us not only what we wanted, but what we needed. Talking openly about healing and the power of music, she said at the beginning that it was time to let her take care of us for the next hour or so. Herself and her stellar band gave us an intimate show that filled our hearts with joy, laughter, light and love.”
Music may not be the chosen method of healing for everyone, but it is one that has proven valuable for many. For the nearly two hour long set that Bridgewater put on, students, faculty, administrators and Granville residents alike all had the opportunity to escape for a while. We encourage you to explore the many ways of healing and to look out for yourself and others, all of which can be found in this week’s special edition.