Carole J. Bufford: Setting New Standards

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Carole J. Bufford

Setting New Standards

Chelsea Table + Stage, NYC, April 29, 2023

Reviewed by Candace Leeds

Carole J. Bufford

Stephen Holden of The New York Times described Carole J. Bufford as a “sizzling performer” and noted her “bright rangy voice” and “big blue eyes that emit snapping electrical charges.” She lived up to that description at the lovely supper club Chelsea Table + Stage. Her expressive intensity, her ability to fully inhabit her songs, and the power of her lovely voice continue to impress this reviewer. Bufford chose songs that were largely unfamiliar. That made it a bit more challenging for the audience to connect with her, yet she managed to fully engage them. She said she chooses her songs two ways. The first is by choosing songs from the artists she admires who write great lyrics, such as Adele and Brandy Carlisle. The second is to choose songs from TV and movie soundtracks that tell a tale and move the plot forward.  Many of these songs, she admitted, are under the radar but are worthy of being highlighted, including those in the country/western vein, which she believes are often the best story songs. Bufford really did her research and provided an interesting background for each song.

She explained that her opening number, “If I Tell You I Love You,” was written and performed by Melody Gardot, who became involved with music during her therapy following a major accident. Her second song, “Sinkin’ Soon” (Norah Jones/Lee Alexander), was chosen because it enabled her to present a “deeper dive” into its meaning.  One of her favorites in the show’s playlist was “Fade Into You” (Trevor Rosen/ Shane McAnally & Matt Jenkins), a hauntingly beautiful song that was in the season 1 episode of the TV series Nashville and also was featured on Bufford’s first album. A highlight of the evening was the slow and powerful country/western song about jealousy, Girl Crush” (Liz Rose/Lori McKenna/Hillary Lindsey); it won a Grammy and reached the number-one spot on U. S. country radio. Another stand out was “Who Did That to You” (John Legend, written for Quentin Tarantino’s film Django Unchained), which showcased Bufford’s powerful and plaintive sound and her expressive upper register. Another of her favorites was the powerful and emotional soul balladWhen We Were Young” (Adele Adkins & Tobias Jess Jr.) that had us enthralled.

She concluded with “Choctaw County Affair” (Jason White), a lively country song that showcased her beautiful high-intensity and powerful sound. Throughout the show, her physical presence, singing prowess, and ability to speak directly to the audience fully conveyed the meaning of each song and put the audience in the palm of her hand.

Candace Leeds

Candace Leeds has been steeped in the world of music since the age of twelve, when she enrolled in Juilliard to study voice and prepare for a professional career. After 15 years of music studies, she moved into entertainment management at New York's Town Hall, where she produced concerts and served as Associate Director. Her writing and marketing skills led to senior positions in major public relations firms, including the PR arm of Grey Advertising and The Rowland Company, which became part of Saatchi and Saatchi. For the past two decades, she served as Vice President of Public Affairs at the multi-billion dollar conglomerate, Loews Corporation, and now has her own marketing consulting company. While pursuing her business career, she continued her music involvement, studying cabaret and occasionally performing in local New York venues. Candace is an accomplished writer whose work has appeared in the New York Daily News, TV World, and many others.