THE stylish Nina Kristofferson has received much acclaim in recent years for her Billie Holiday ‘story’ – a tribute to the music of the legendary jazz singer. But there is more to this talented musician (and actress) as evidenced at the Pizza Express Live Pheasantry (Chelsea, London) on Bank Holiday weekend where she demonstrated her wonderful versatility before an audience that included actress Anita Dobson.
Without a nod in the direction of Holiday, she put together a show that embraced songs made famous by the likes of Adele, James Brown, Beyoncé, Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Emma James, Dusty Springfield, Nina Simone and Dean Martin.
She even treated the audience to a little Puccini and Schubert where her strong soprano voice came to the fore. Not once was she overwhelmed as she imposed her own particular style on the chosen songs. As happy singing jazz as she was pop, classical and theatre (Les Miserables’ On My Own).
Supported by pianist Mike Stobbie, drummer Paul Robinson and Neil Murray (bass), Kristofferson seemed to gain confidence the longer the show went on. A little nervous to begin with, she raced from one song to another, rarely pausing for breath to interact with the audience.
It was only really six songs in that suddenly she took up her performance a gear with a powerful – and quite beautiful – version of Schubert’s Ave Maria. Following this with an equally strong O Mio Babbino Caro (Puccini), Kristofferson relaxed, feeding off the audience’s appreciation. From there on in, she delivered unique interpretations of Beyonce’s Halo, Adele’s Someone Like You and Streisand’s Somewhere. The show ended thrillingly with Besame Mucho and Mambo Italiano (made famous by Dean Martin).
With other standout songs Cry Me A River, My Baby Cares for Me and If You Go Away, Kristofferson demonstrated that she is a born entertainer. As happy singing as she is acting.