Miki Howard, a virtuoso singer/songwriter, hasn’t lost a step. Ms Howard was at the City Winery in DC for two shows Friday night November 25, 2022 for her recent LP release, Throw It Away. A near capacity fully engaged audience responded to this exceptional Jazz, R&B/Soul songstress. The stage was alive with 7 musicians including a solid horn section, rhythm section and two stellar background vocalists. Ms Howard just loves to perform and it was evident by her playful interaction with the audience.
Turning 60 has not affected Miki’s smooth ranging voice, her dynamics or her joy of singing. A bit more of a contralto then an alto now, but her voice remains just as soothing and remarkable. Put simply she makes each word in the song meaningful by applying an intuitive sense of emphasis, pitch and tempo. Miki’s voice doesn’t just imitate the notes but also she bends notes, her rhythmic feel and phrasing, and the pronunciation of vowel sounds that mark her distinctive vocal expression. Miki brings Blues, essential to Jazz, blending every emotion within every song. The legendary Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday did this as well as anyone, and so does Ms Howard.
Tonight’s event was in honor of Ms Howard’s July 2022 release, Throw It Away, a smooth jazz tribute to the late Abby Lincoln. Miki’s sensitive retrospective is announced in the emotional opening line “I think about the life I like to live” accompanied by a solo piano arrangement. Miki gives us what we need more of today–hope and love–she invites us to “Keep (y)our hands wide open, let the sunshine through”. “You know why, because love conquers all.” Ms. Howard has a way of resonating sings about her own pain and rebirth through her lyrics.
The set is also a retrospective of songs from Ms Howard’s Golden Years in the 1980s and 1990s including: Crazy (1988), Solitude (1992), Good Morning Heartache (1992), Ain’t Nobody Like You (1992), Love Under New Management (1989) and Soon I’ll Be Loving You (1996)
In sum, it is fair to state that, Miki Howard is one of the few songstresses still performing from the Golden Age of Jazz, particularly, smooth jazz. Be sure to lookout for Ms. Howard, who has dazzled audiences and fans for four decades, in a location near you. This is a performance you do not want to miss!
Ms Howard will be reprising this night’s performance tomorrow November 26 at the City Winery in Philadelphia.