Betty brings house down
THERE WAS NOTHING PAINFUL about watching Betty Payne overcome her fears and conquer the stage. And last Sunday, the Mahalia’s Corner audience surrendered to the sweet sounds and melodies that filled the room.
Though she sang the words to I Surrender with powerful conviction, the true yielding came from the audience. After she belted out the final note of the Celine Dion ballad, the applause and cheers that echoed in the Hilton Hotel’s Needham Point Ballroom was arguably one of the loudest heard at the corner for the season.
Dressed in white with a pair of sparkling stilettos to finish the look, Payne kept the diva train moving when she sang the LaBelle’s original Lady Marmalade. And in true Patti LaBelle fashion, Payne tackled the succession of vocal rifts aggressively, making them seem effortless.
The impressive ease continued when she sang Minnie Riperton’s Lovin’ You. Even though she reluctantly sang a 30-second long snippet of the song, she seemed to have no issues with taking it up an octave.
One man’s breath was taken away when she covered Tessanne Chin’s Hideaway. “Do that one again,” the man shouted. They had a public conversation which ended when she jokingly told him, “Behave!”
While taking time to wish her father who was in the audience happy birthday, she gave a touching tribute to her brother who passed away.
With pain and agony she sang “I can’t believe he’s gone, how am I to carry on?” She explained that she wrote it many years before his death and this performance brought tears to some eyes.
She then lightened the mood when she sang Jill Scott’s Golden. The jazzy number was accompanied by a barrage of vocals scats that might have rivalled the originator.
Payne leapt far away from the edge when she closed her set with Edge Of Glory.
In a case where the apple did not fall far from the tree, Payne’s daughter Beviny also won the audience over during the open mic segment.
Singing an a capella version of Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder, the audience assisted her and provided the instrumental by imitating the horn lines in the song.
And in a twist of events, Christine, a Mahalia Corner regular who is usually vocal from the back of the ballroom took to the stage. Mid-performance she admitted she was nervous but she managed to complete the spoken word performance.
The AzMan (left) trio wanted to know who the Real Bajan was when they asked the audience to “raise up ya foot, jook up ya hand if yous a real bajan”. The group also did Play On.
The spotlight artiste of the night was Alix Cage. He played the keyboard in his first performance of I’m Not The Only One. Accompanied by the band NexCyx, he put his falsetto to the test and it paid off as the crowd cheered and encouraged him to do more. For his original song Slow Wine, he came from behind the screen to command the stage.
Sunday, the lights at the corner are set to go off at the season finale when Hal Hilton and Marvay will be co-headliners of the show.