Sunday, March 23, 2008

James Brown and Pavarotti: The most unlikely duo

Article by Kadene Porter
Abeng News Magazine

It must have been the most unlikely duo of all time. This idea that the disciplined lyric tenor of Luciano Pavarotti, crowned “King of the High Cs”, that note that could bring you to tears, could be somehow intermingled with the raspy funk-infused blues-chantings of the irrepressible “Godfather of Soul” James Brown, would hardly have been conceived for the to-do list of any producer.

Yet Pavarotti had seen the future. For him, globalization meant that the genre of classical opera music, cloistered and exclusive for ages, would become a part of the emerging world music scene, an innovation in harmony where East meets West and seemingly incongruous music genres are fused to produce a new, universal message in sound. Since 1990 when his signature aria “Nessun Dorma” crossed over into the world of pop, the great tenor worked tirelessly to bring classic opera to the masses, performing with other pop stars through a series of concerts for charity, Pavarotti and Friends, with innumerable artistes, from Bryan Adams and Tom Jones to Barry White and Ricky Martin.

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Yet no other collaboration has so captured the aesthetic of perfection in incongruity as this electrifying duet performed with James Brown in Pavarotti’s hometown of Modena in the spring of 2002. From the sighing strings of the violins mimicking the “bel canto” of the tenor, the steady blues rhythm of the keyboard artist, to the dramatic drummer and the hypnotic swaying and melodious harmony of the backup singers, comes an orchestration of sound that holds all enraptured in the unmistakable magic and an incredible fusion of synergies.

“It’s a Man’s World” was first performed by James Brown in 1965 and though its title may offend the ear of most women today, he confessed that the expressed caveat makes it stark reality. “But he’s nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl

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