Friday, July 28, 2017

War Remembrances or Lack Thereof in New Orleans

Melinda Palacio

On top of what's left of the Jefferson Davis statue

As the toppling of the monuments became imminent, the city of New Orleans was overrun with people from out of the state, wielding guns, in the name of protecting the Civil War era monuments, including those of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, PT Beauregard and an obelisk commemorating Reconstruction Era white supremacist attacks on the city's integrated police force. I think everyone breathes a little easier now that the statue die-hards, as well as the statues themselves, are gone. I decided to do a little dance on the naked platform. Your guess is as good as mine as to what will top the empty platforms. 

Mayor Mitch Landrieu's speech on why this cause was so important to him and to the city of New Orleans can be read in its entirety in the New York Times. "These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized confederacy; ignoring the death; ignoring the enslavement, and the terror they actually stood for," Landrieu said. 

On Tuesday, I visited the National World War II Museum for a friendly competition titled, BB's Stage Door Canteen Idol.  The show is similar to American Idol, except singers perform songs that were written or recorded in the 1940s. The winners of each preliminary round will advance to perform in the finale on August 15 for a cash prize of $1, 000 and the title of Stage Door idol 2017. Similar to the American Idol tv show, the judges offered criticism and suggestions for improvement. Judges gave the contestants grief over everything from their choice of shoes to their choice of arrangement for the songs. 

I was surprised that they chose their youngest contestant, 14-year-old Hannah Bonnette, as the winner with her rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." A representative of the Stage Door Canteen told me over the phone that the judges actually voted for someone else. However, the young singer and smart young cookie brought 70 of her closest friends. The competition was judged by three judges, including the entertainment manager of the Saints, a voice teacher, and the producer from  Bustout Burlesque New Orleans. 

My vote went to my friend, Nancy Staggs. She's the reason I found out about this fun competition. Nancy was the total package when it came to 40's style and voice. She was pitch perfect and one of the judges compared her sound to Natalie Cole. She did an outstanding job, and I'm not just saying this because she's a friend, singing "Since I fell for You,"a song that requires a strong voice with lots of range. Standards and Blues are Nancy's strong suits. She's a natural. She was a very good sport about not winning the popular vote. "I am happy with my performance," she said. Nancy also says she will definitely compete next year. Somehow, the three judges were split, giving more weight to the audience's vote. Let's help Nancy bring more friends to next year's competition. 

Another contender was Kelly Dixon, who one of the judges dinged for wearing her glasses on stage. I think that's the only thing they could fault her for because she has a natural talent. She was pregnant and she sang the most soulful version of God Bless the Child. I would have been satisfied if either of these talented ladies would have won, especially, my friend Nancy. The Toulouse Quartet were also in the running (in my opinion). The judges dinged them for wearing black character shoes and for not relating to the audience. They sang a local favorite, "You Are My Sunshine," and their arrangement and harmony made me want to sign up and sing in a quartet.  

The winner, Hannah Bonnette. Judges compared her to a Disney princess.

Nancy Staggs, a professional singer judges compared to Natalie Cole.

Kelly Dixon

Toulouse Quartet


Anonymous said...

Correction: The Producer of Bustout Burlesque New Orleans gave his vote to Hannah. He told her backstage. There were 18 - 20 of her friends and VERY small family present.

Anonymous said...

Great article and review of the Idol competition.Several people that attended expressed the same comments.The competition must go on . Good Luck to all!