Folk, country and blues singer-songwriter Oh Susanna put on a hell of a show this week at Toronto’s The Great Hall. It was extra special because she invited some friends along to play, and she has some very spectacular friends indeed!
Andy Maize, Ben Kunder, Sarah Harmer, Jane Siberry, Justin Rutledge and Colleen Brown were among those privileged enough to be called up. Coming up one at a time, these gems performed their songs with Suzie and her band.
Suzie performed many of her own songs as well. What a voice! Such strength and clarity of tone. The show concluded with a melodious group encore, where Suzie re-wrote the lyrics to Go Tell it on the Mountain and we had a good, old-fashioned sing-along.
The event was in keeping with her album Namedropper, a collection of songs written for her by many of her musical friends, including Ron Sexsmith, Jim Cuddy, Amelia Curran, Melissa McClelland, Luke Doucet and several others. What a brilliant idea for a record.
As such, the record boasts variety in subject material and tone, but Suzie made each song her own and is the cohesiveness that keeps this wonderful collection of songs together. My two favourites are Oregon (Jim Bryson) and Mozart For The Cat (Melissa McClelland).
Oregon is magical. It boasts a delicate, childlike innocence. There’s a reverent quality to it, both in the lyrics and in the simplicity of the song, plus the way Suzie sings it. Jim Bryson does such a wonderful job with the lyrics that it paints a vivid picture of lazy afternoons and the simple pleasures in life.
Mozart For The Cat is quite a contrast to Oregon;it’s sassy! It’s fun and punchy and Suzie’s delivery is bang on.
Namedropper was actually in the works in 2012 and almost finished by spring 2013 when Suzie was diagnosed with breast cancer. She took time off for treatment, and released the album in October 2014.
Suzie proved last night that she’s back, sounding and looking stronger and more confident than ever. Hats off to her and her band, and her obviously supportive and caring friends.
Here’s a video for Goodnight, performed last year at The Great Hall:
• 2015 – Canadian Folk Music Nomination for Solo Artist of the Year