SHE may be diminutive but give her an audience and musician Beverley Skeete will suddenly grow in stature. She becomes a colossus as she bangs out number after number in her deep husky voice.
Skeete has been performing since the early 1980s. In her time, she has provided backing vocals for the likes of the Eurthymics, Chaka Khan, M People and Robbie Williams – and many more. She has also been key to the success of Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings. Soul, blues, funk or dance music. Nothing fazes Skeete.
On Saturday night (March 3) , she performed at the Pheasantry (part of the Pizza Express Live chain) on London’s famous King’s Road. Despite a few logistical difficulties caused by the snow (leading to last minute band changes), she put together a set that had the near full Pheasantry dancing in their seats (it is too conservative a venue for dancing on the tables or in between the seats).
What is so wonderful about Skeete – besides her voice and big personality – is that she loves to share the stage with other talented singers.
Normally her daughter Sara-Jane Skeete (an accomplished singer) joins her but she is currently touring with Robbie Williams in Australia. So Katie Kissoon, looking dazzling dressed in a white cocktail dress, stepped up to the mark and revelled in the limelight. As indeed did Kevin Leo, a regular Skeete stage ‘friend’.
All three had their moments to show off their talents and they did not waste them.
Leo, conscious of the snow outside, transported the audience to warmer climes with Everybody Loves The Sunshine. Other songs that stood out included Lady Day and John Coltrane – and a dance-tastic Move On Up which momentarily got a few bums off seats. Ain’t No Woman Like The One I Got (Four Tops – even though Leo thought it was Tom Jones singing when he first heard the track) and Bob Marley’s Jamming were other Leo stand-outs.
Kissoon shone brightly. Her versions of Dusty Springfield’s Going Back, Ella Fitzgerald’s Misty and Bonnie Raitt’s I Can’t Make You Love Me were delightful. She also acknowledged the influence of Van Morrison on her distinguished career (she has long been his backing singer) with a beautiful Crazy Love. I’ll Be Loving You Always (Stevie Wonder) was also exquisitely delivered.
Skeete’s version of Jill Scott’s Golden got the audience clapping (no mean achievement) while James Brown’s It’s A Man’s Man’s World provided a fitting finale to the first set. ‘This is a man’s world. This is a man’s world. But it wouldn’t be nothing. Nothing without a woman or a girl.’
In the second set, Tina Turner’s Proud Mary was a special moment as Skeete got the audience – men and women separately – to back her in a little rolling on the river. The night finished with rousing versions of Going Back To My Roots and James Brown’s I Got You (I Feel Good).
A special night led by a pocket dynamo of a performer.