Flying High


Lincoln Center's American Songbook series, founded in 1998, is dedicated to the preservation of the work of American songwriters, from the Tin Pan Alley songs of the early 20th century, to today's singer-songwriters. Last night's program, "Soul Deep: An Anthology of Black Music," featured African-American singers (mostly from Broadway) with huge voices belting out blues, soul, and R&B, backed by a rockin' big band. There was even a foray into the world of gospel: Naomi Shelton, who brought her own backing band: The Gospel Queens. Dressed in a purple-and-silver rhinestone dress, Shelton was like the female version of James Brown, screeching her God-loving lyrics with a dark, dangerous voice. I swear, I thought her eyes were about to roll back in her head. Jim Shaw closed out the night with a pair of soul originals: "Do the 45" and "We Got Love," telling people to get up and out of their chairs. I swear, there's just nothing like the sight of square white people dancing.

The American Songbook series continues at the stunning Allen Room overlooking Columbus Circle through March 6, with upcoming dates by Del, Nico, and Stew, among others. Tickets available at the box office. (More pics below.)