Barbara Lewis sings on
How Women Feel
Songstress presents excerpts from her current one-woman show at Atwater Library
By Byron Toben
One hidden jewel of the downtown Montreal area is the weekly series of free Thursday noontime lectures at the Atwater Library.
This venerable institution, located on Westmount’s Eastern border, has been providing many services to members and the general public for over 100 years.
Since the arrival of director Lynn Verge eleven years ago, the Library’s Lunchtime Series has witnessed an amazing variety of subjects. These range from local history to national political figures, from seasonal themes to travel reports, from scientific revelations to book launches and fine musical selections. A few of my own off hand favourites appear at the end of this article.
The most recent one that I attended was a musical hour by renowned singer Barbara Lewis.
Originally trained in opera, Ms Lewis has expanded her genres to include jazz, pop, folk and Latin. Some songs are rendered in French, some in Spanish. She had last appeared at the Atwater in September 2016.
For her 2018 date, she featured excerpts from her current one-woman show, Blood Orchid – How Women Feel, a timely “Me Too” compendium of songs written by and/or sung by women artists such as Edith Piaf, Joni Mitchell, Billie Holliday and Carole King.
The rousing feminist anthem I Am Woman by Helen Reddy brought the packed largely female audience to its feet.
Ms Lewis has toured North America with other of her one-woman shows such as Crossroads and My Canada, often with piano accompanist maestro Doug Balfour.
In addition to public appearances, Ms Lewis is active as a vocal coach and teaches music at Concordia.
Her successful results in teaching then cancer patient social worker Claire Duschesneau to sing jazz were documented in Anne Henderson’s 2014 film, In the Key of Claire.
Oh yes, as promised above, some of my off hand favourites over the years at the noontime series were:
A Child’s Christmas in Wales annual reading
Lord Byron’s daughter’s contributions to modern computer mathematics
Deep Time Science-based 6 billion years of Earth vs. Bible-based 6000 years
Annual Robert Burns day
Travels in Asia or Africa
Annual St. Pat’s day jigs and reels
Barbara Lewis next appears in Westmount at Victoria Hall on December 5.
Images: courtesy of Barbara Lewis
Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.