Wé McDonald

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Wé McDonald

Joe’s Pub, NYC, April 7, 2018

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

Wé McDonald

It’s so easy to listen to Wé McDonald’s vocal talent that nothing else is needed—the lights, the noises other things make, even the words. Why have them? I could listen to the many moments where the lengthy notes were held clear by the “little girl with the big voice” singing alone through the stunned silent air.
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Whatever made McDonald, whatever gives her that wonderful voice or well to tap into, deserves a mere footnote to the fact that here it is: a  voice to be reckoned with.

McDonald kicked off the Downtown Urban Arts Festival with a solo show where she shared some of her favorite songs and thanked her family for their constant support. That kind of winning charm and personality needs no gloss. She went from style to style — from jazz to rock and from pop to Broadway and, within those switches, she found moments to make Freddie Mercury’s daring notes in “Don’t Stop Me Now” (which he also wrote) look easy and Streisand’s stunning pitch changes in “Don’t Rain on My Parade” (Funny Girl, Bob Merrill and Jule Styne) just as breezy. At one point, she held up her wrist to jokingly check the time as she held a note.
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My favorite songs from the evening were Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” and Aerosmith’s “Dream On” (Steven Tyler). In “Back to Black,” I felt swayed into the emotion by the way McDonald checked her flair to deliver the line “And I go back to black.” Even beyond that, though, I felt like her killer version of “Dream On” made me rethink the original. She articulated well, held notes longer, and made me look at a favorite song of mine in an almost entirely new way.

An incredible and obvious talent, McDonald also shared some originals. While songs like “Alive” entertained, I felt like her performances of classic songs made a far deeper impression. At the same time, with her voice, one of these might click and resonate. I’m already excited to see where her career takes her next!

Chris Struck

Chris Struck's debut novel, Kennig and Gold, is due to be officially published in June 2019. He's written reviews for Cabaret Scenes since August of 2017. For more information about the writer, see StruckChris.com