I know that the last post was a little heavy on the pro-American sentiments, but this story is so good I couldn't resist sharing it.
Every year Perugia, the largest city in the province of Umbria, hosts a huge jazz festival in the middle of July. Artists from all over the world come to play, with many hailing from music captials in America like New Orleans and Nashville, Tennessee. Over the years, noteworthy artists like the Buena Vista Social Club, Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, Diana Krall, Dionne Warwick, and Keith Jarret have graced the stages of Umbria Jazz.
Last year, we were lucky enough to see James Brown there in one of his last performances. This year, we saw Sly and the Family Stone. We were very excited.
Sly's opening act was the soul and country music singer Solomon Burke. The self-styled "King of Rock n' Soul" was clad in an enormous purple sequined suit and a fur-trimmed cape. He was so huge that he had to sing from a throne, and he did not speak a word of Italian. Nevertheless, Solomon knew how to put on a show.
Dancing to his songs, including "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay," "Georgia On My Mind, "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love," and "Proud Mary," was a blast. I rocked out while our Italian friends looked on, a bit shocked and surprised at my exhuberance.
Solomon Burke is a great entertainer who knows how to work an audience, even an Italian one. He even invited the women dancing in front up onto the stage. I watched with amusement as a handful of women were hoisted on stage by burly security men, until my husband Mimmo elbowed me and said, "Look! Look! Alessandra and Francesca are up there!" I stopped dancing to take a look, and sure enough, there were my two daughters waving at us energetically from the stage!
Not only was I proud of America for being the birthplace of such incredible music, I was also proud of my daughters for being fearless, uninhibited, and unselfconscious enough to accept Solomon's invitation and climb onstage, dancing and singing all the way.
The King of Rock n' Soul himself, Solomon Burke!
Alessandra and Francesca onstage! (The two girls on the far left in the white shirt and the green sweater)