With the stock market giving its riders whiplash as it bounced up and down and an unprecedented Presidential race in hot debate last October 15th, Cape Verdean singer, Lura, faced an audience looking for escape.
Dakota Jazz Bar owner, Lowell Pickett, assured the small crowd that they had “made the right choice” in attending Lura’s show.
“You can catch up on the debates later,” said Pickett, “this [show] is better for the soul,” he insisted.
Lura provided all the necessary elements for a soulful break from politics and financial concern as she performed number after number in her rapturous voice. Wearing a turmeric-colored outfit that bared her shoulders and provided snapshots of her midriff, Lura soared both vocally and visually, moving musically from love notes about her homeland, So Um Cartinha, to Criolla infused music mixed with Congolese dancing as she sang Batuku.
In the past as well as on her album, Lura performs with a horn player, but Wednesday evening at the Dakota part of her six-piece band included a violin, instead of a horn. Its bright sound mimicked a trumpet as it accompanied her. Guitars and drums also played along, accenting Lura’s splendid voice.
Lura’s command of the band guided by her femininity showed us the strength of women without brashness or masculinity. Current social problems and inequality that presently plague Africa also have a voice in Lura’s music in addition to her joyful and celebratory numbers.
The size of the audience dictated the Dakota’s decision to curtain-off part of their seating area, but that also effectively closed down their dance floor. Lura’s music is so dance-enticing that roping off dance opportunities seemed a disservice to both the patrons as well as the musicians who gain momentum from a participating audience. Lura’s pointed requests for the audience to join her in singing different songs were met with timidity.
The evening’s somber mood probably would not have lifted markedly even with wider space to move. However, as Lura sang one song in particular, she tied on a hip wrap, kicked off her high heeled shoes, and rolled her hips in response to her music; her intimate manner with the crowd drew affection.
Besides one pair half-heartedly turning their heels, no one else in the audience joined her spirited dancing, but her sensual, distinctive movements made it easy to forget our troubles as we watched this petite woman from the archipelagos off the west coast of Africa.