Vikki Carr is “Grande, Grande, Grande” at the Grand Opera House
Cinco de Mayo will never be the same! At least, I cannot imagine anything else exceeding my expectations the way Vikki Carr’s performance with Jose Hernandez and Mariachi el Sol has done. After what I witnessed on May 5, 2012, at the 1894 Grand Opera House on Galveston Island, “now I know the feeling.” I myself have experienced the blessing of seeing many exceptional bands, artists, and musicians throughout my life (even traveling as far as Australia to do so) but after being part of a Vikki Carr experience--and I choose that word intentionally--I, like millions of other music lovers all over the world, have finally witnessed a certain type of artistry that is extraordinary in its power, its range, and its authenticity.
Before I discuss the power of this Lady of Song, I do have to give credit to Maestro Hernandez and his magnificent mariachi band. They are one of the most talented bands--of any kind--that I have ever seen or heard. I could write a full review on them alone, and there would be much good to say. They serve as a wonderful complement to Miss Carr and what she does for an audience. With crowd pleasers such as Vikki’s opening song, “Ni princesa ni Esclava,” the maestro and his band provide a beautiful musical backdrop for Vikki’s vocal excellence. Even though I don’t speak Spanish, somehow the feelings are conveyed through the power of Vikki’s interpretation. And the night rolls on with this power. Sitting on the front row with my mother beside me and our beloved VSP Vice-President seated nearby over my right shoulder, I am mesmerized by the power I am witnessing. The power of Vikki’s vocal prowess is still a wonder to hear, and her stage presence is commanding. Those singing pipes ain’t rusty, folks! Vikki continues to joyously perform amazing feats of vocal gymnastics. I am amazed as I watch an entertainment craftswoman at work. I also observe her power and skill when it comes to holding an audience rapt, in the palm of her hand. There is a warm and wonderful vibe in the opera house. This is a vibe that had begun with old friends who are there (such as my pals Ann and Randy) and new friends (VSPers such as Alicia, Laurie and Rick) who have met in this place to drink in the beautiful sounds of the night.
Then there is the incredible range of Vikki Carr’s talent. Certainly, the range of her vocal skills is noteworthy. She can, as has been pointed out repeatedly, move from a shout to a whisper. Also, she can run the scales, but her range is also evident in the variety of music to which we are treated. She sings in Spanish, and she sings in English. She sings with instruments, and she sings a capella. At one point, she asks the audience members what they would like to hear. When someone requests “With Pen in Hand,” she responds, “But it’s so sad!” However, we are then rewarded with one of the most moving musical moments I have witnessed, and that is Vikki delivering that song without any instrumental backing. Only a real talent could do such a thing, starting and ending right on pitch. It is incredibly affecting…mere words do not do justice to what Vikki is able to convey with that song. Another element of her of range is also demonstrated by Miss Vikki Carr’s career longevity. With more than fifty years in show business behind her, Vikki could rest on her laurels. And why not, after all she has achieved. However, she continues to create melodic joy by her inclusion of songs in this show, such as the lovely “Corazon Medley” from her upcoming album Viva La Vida. So the range of her work expands as her musical contributions continue to delight and entertain. New favorites are still being added for the enjoyment of her fans.
Finally, there is the authenticity of Vikki Carr’s artistry. There are many accomplished artists who showcase an impressive display of talent, but I have yet to see someone who connects with the audience more sincerely than Vikki does. She enjoys banter with us, and she shares stories and quips and quotes, which are delightful and revealing. The whole time she is performing, it seems as though she is truly glad that each of us is there, and that there is no place else that she would rather be. I have to admit that my night was made when she began to sing the first lines of “Tu Me Gusta/That means I like you…” I just could not help but sing back to her, “I really like you,” to which she responded, “You remembered!” Folks, to quote good old Dino, “Memories are made of this…” Everything about the show seems to be about authentic love, whether it is about the respect a woman has for herself in “Total,” or the true love Vikki has for her dear husband Dr. Pete, when dedicating the beautiful “Somos Novios” to him. And of course, there is the love of the song itself, when at long last, she regales us with a stunning version of “It Must Be Him,” complete with mariachi backing. Naturally, we are not quite ready for the night to end, and we are treated with an encore of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” including the “One more time, for old times’ sake!” reprise of the chorus! Once the concert concludes, I know that I have seen a truly authentic, bona fide show business legend, who also happens to have shared her faith in God (“Everything happens in His own time..”) and her appreciation and love for her music and her audience. All in all, the evening is full of musical magic.
If for some reason, you have not yet had the pleasure of attending one of Vikki Carr’s shows, I highly recommend that you take a bus, a car, a train, or a plane to see her next show--just get there! Although I consider myself late to the party in terms of getting in on the fun, I know that I have seen something remarkable, and I look forward to the opportunity to see Vikki Carr in concert again soon. At the risk of sounding gushy, the truth is that the lovely, striking, and talented lady still is Vikki Carr: Superstar.