The noted jazz and blues singer had to leave her hometown in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. She and her husband settled in his hometown of Brattleboro, where she quickly established herself in the region’s thriving music scene.
But she missed her hometown, and every time she heard the song “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?” it touched deep emotional chords in her.
Less sad but equally sentimental, the song “Moonlight in Vermont” is the unofficial state song here, and one of the songs visitors to Vermont most often request of Evans.
“I’ve had to get very acquainted with ‘Moonlight in Vermont,’” she said earlier this week.
Audiences at Saturday’s Event in a Tent will get acquainted with Evans sweet, soulful, swinging and sultry vocal style and, perhaps, reacquainted with “Moonlight in Vermont” when she sings it.
“I think it perfectly depicts the beauty of Vermont,” said Evans. “It’s a song of swoons. … I like a song that touches the heart.”
Composed in 1943 by John Blackburn and Karl Suessdorf, “Moonlight in Vermont,” like the state it extols, has become iconic despite, or perhaps because, it is different and sublimely unique. The lyrics don’t rhyme; in fact, each verse is a haiku. And Vermont boasts very few sycamores and meadowlarks, although they are crucial elements of the evocative lyrics. This kind of thing doesn’t bother Vermonters; we’re pretty laid back.
Its distinctive features haven’t stopped “Moonlight in Vermont” from becoming iconic. It has been sung by Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Willie Nelson, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughan, Nat King Cole, Billie Holliday, Mel Torme, Rosemary Clooney, Kate Smith, Linda Ronstadt and many others.
Now you can hear Evans add her rendition to the list. It should be a memorable one.
” ‘Moonlight in Vermont’ gives me the same feeling as ‘Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?’ The whole purpose is for people to become more familiar with the beauty of Vermont,” Evans said.
Samirah will also be singing “Almost Like Being in Love” from the classic Broadway show “Brigadoon” by Lerner and Loewe. Judging from Tuesday’s rehearsal with Maestro Hugh Keelan, Evans has a gift for bringing out the beauty of that song, while making it swing.
She said that song, like “Moonlight in Vermont” is a perfect fit for The Event in a Tent, particularly when the lyrics say “All the music of life seems to be, like a bell that is ringing for me.”
“It’s perfect for what we’re doing,” she said.