Cynthia Clarey: Bridge Over Muddied Waters

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Cynthia Clarey

Bridge Over Muddied Waters

Davenport’s, Chicago, IL, May 6, 2018

Reviewed by Carla Gordon for Cabaret Scenes

Cynthia Clarey

It is clear that Cynthia Clarey’s intent in presenting Bridge Over Muddied Waters is to inspire thought and discussion about the disharmony that has become the norm in America. She not only brings her classically trained rich alto chops, she brings generous helpings of heart. She is also a smart enough entertainer to offer an engaging show rather than a diatribe on unkind behaviors. 

Opening with Luther Vandross’ lively “A Brand New Day” (“Everybody Rejoice”) conveys that, while Muddied Waters has plenty to say, it is also joyful. That Clarey grew up in the South in the ’50s and personally tasted the bitterness of the Jim Crow era enables her to inhabit the darkness that underlies Abel Meeropol’s “Strange Fruit.” In the context of Muddied Waters, songs that remind us to be proactive in making the world better are especially meaningful. These selections included “He Ain’t Heavy… He’s My Brother” (Bob Russell and Bobby Scott), “We Are the World,” (Lionel Ritchie and Michael Jackson), and “Thank the Ones Who Serve” (Carla Gordon and Wayne Richards). Lighter moments provide necessary balance to the serious ones and included Clarey’s original rap song, “I Don’t Know.” We were delighted with her comfortable groove in this unexpected genre.

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 “It’s All White with Me,” the provocative parody of Cole Porter’s standard, spurred wry smiles.

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Closing with a jazzy rendition of “A Lot of Livin’ to  Do” ended a meaningful show on a hopeful, positive note.

Carla Gordon

Carla Gordon is a singer/songwriter, director, and producer. The Chicago Tribune cited her among “Chicago’s most accomplished cabaret performers….a major player in Chicago cabaret.” Reviewer Pam Peterson called her “Honey-voiced wisecracker!” Ageless Magazine called her performance as Sophie tucker, “A gem!” Gordon writes custom material for singers nationwide. Her flagship show, "Blacklisted," featuring songs made famous by artists blacklisted under McCarthyism, has toured to critical acclaim. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Cabaret Professionals and on the Advisory Board of the Skokie Theater. Her songs air on WFMT’s Midnight Special and are being performed performed by cabaret artists nationwide.