Angela Bofill returned to The Birchemere in Alexandra VA for another performance of her exquisite Angela Bofill Experience. The show is an opportunity for her fans to see her on stage, speaking about her career – the highs, the lows, the triumphs, and the tragedies. Returning to the stage in this manner is quite a unique and inventive setting that allows her to persevere after 2 strokes, which have left her unable to sing. For this experience, her narrative is accompanied by a featured vocalist and Ms. Bofill’s touring band, Moe Daniels (keyboards), Craig Phillips (Drums), and Kevin Walker (bass).
The night began with her life-long friend, flutist Dave Valentin, who started the evening off with a dramatic and fluid reading of the John Coltrane classic “Equinox.” It really set the stage for the proceedings, and gave an opportunity for the audience to enjoy the talented musicians on stage.
The always engaging Melba Moore joined them, resplendent in a shimmering black and silver miniskirt and jacket, with fishnet stockings, proudly showing off her fit body and boundless energy while she belted Angie’s hit “Angel of The Night.” After pausing briefly in homage to the passing of Whitney Houston, Ms. Moore announced that this evening would be about celebrating survival. With that declaration, she introduced Ms. Bofill, who made her way on stage without a wheelchair this time. She took her time walking with a cane to a chair positioned center stage, absorbing the adoration the audience showered on her with a standing ovation. It was so overwhelming: it seemed no one wanted to take a seat, marveling at how she glowed.
Valentin began by talking about their early days growing up together in The Bronx, and when he and Angie first started performing together professionally, with Ricardo Marerro. Angie continued, relating how Dave introduced her to the owners of his record label, GRP, Larry Grusin and Dave Rosen, setting the stage for her own deal and debut recording ANGIE. Valentin made it clear that while his first album sold 75,000 units, Angie’s sold 250,000! [Note: ANGIE - Expanded Edition has been reissued by SoulMusic.com Records]
The evening continued with video clips of highlights from Angie’s career, including presenting Michael Jackson’s American Music Award for “Thriller,” and her performances on Soul Train and The Tonight Show. Accompanying these clips, Moore sang the related songs, including “Too Tough,” “I Try” (which Angie wrote as a teenager!), and “This Time I’ll Be Sweeter.” She had the unenviable task of interpreting these classic songs, while delicately checking her own singular style. She did an admirable job.
The audience was completely captivated by Angie’s easygoing nature and quite comical stories about her family, including her Puerto Rican mother and Cuban Father, who sang “Babalu” and played percussion. She also spoke of her nephew Pablo, for whom she wrote the song “Rainbow Child (Little Pas),” on her ANGEL OF THE NIGHT album. Sadly, he perished in a car accident a few years ago, providing one of the more poignant moments of the evening.
Despite the fact that Angie’s speaking voice has been hampered by the stroke, her openness, courage, and wit shone through, and made for a very enjoyable evening. The show was closed by a soulful reading of her hit “I’m On Your Side,” which Melba sang with great passion, encouraging the audience to sing along as the Angel of The Night made her exit.
It was an Experience to remember and cherish.
About the Writer
Michael Lewis is a long-time associate at SoulMusic.com. His industry experience includes Sony Music, Motown and La Face Records, and a tenure at HEAR Music. He is grateful to contribute to sustaining the legacy of R&B and soul music.