On May 22, 2015 I had the pleasure of listening to Stephanie Anne Johnson in her performance entitled, Jazz Life Evolution at the Tacoma Youth Theater, located on Broadway in Tacoma. The intimate performance began before a small audience as she sang favorites such as The Girl From Ipanema, Henry Mancini’s Moon River, Billie Holiday’s Them There Eyes, and a moving performance of Georgia On My Mind. As she invoked the musical stylings of Ray Charles and Billie Holiday, her smooth and melodic voice rang. She ended the first act with a song from her Portland Opera performance of Show Boat, Can’t Help Loving That Man of Mine. The first half of the concert provided audiences with delightful songs that provoked them to dance in their seats when she kicked up the pace and sway to and fro when things slowed down.
In addition to performing jazz classics, Johnson also entertained the audience with performances from musicals such as Porgy and Bess and The Wiz. It was hard not to mouth the words to Summertime. Her stand up bass player, Nate Omdal, collaborated with Johnson to arrange a stylistic version of My Man’s Gone, taking George Gershwin’s song and adapting it to their cool style of jazz. Omdal had also wrote charts for the show.
The jazz quartet accompanied perfectly with her soulful voice. In addition to Nate Omdal on the stand up bass, the jazz quartet included: Chris Carlson on the drums, Todd Hollenhorst on keyboard and Navarre Herrara on guitar. Their performance synced with Johnson’s amazing voice and provided excellent stage presence before the audience.
No one in the audience would be able to forget Johnson’s incredible closing song from the musical, The Wiz as she sang Believe in Yourself. With heart and soul, her love and passion for music filled the air from the beginning to the end of her final performance, moving eager listeners to hear the message in the song. Applause lingered as she exited the stage, hoping for an encore performance. With her second album entitled Hollatchagurl, and her appearance on The Voice, one can expect to see an up and coming successful career for Stephanie Anne Johnson.
– Renee Lishka
Renee Lishka is a graduate from the University of Washington Tacoma. She lives in Tacoma with her husband of twelve years, two daughters Laura and Emmy and a cat named Bentley.