Rene Marie was great in her Richmond years, and greater still today. It’s hard to believe that roughly 15 years ago you could hear her live at an Innsbrook restaurant while sipping wine and waiting for your waiter to bring an entrée. Since then she has blazed a brilliant, occasionally controversial career. (At a Colorado event she sang the National Anthem substituting the words for “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Some were offended but based on the version on “Voice of My Beautiful Country” it works pretty well.) Brave and individualistic, Marie combines vocal artistry with transparent, uncompromising honesty to transcendent effect. There is not a false or forced note any of her performances. Her most recent album, “I Want to be Evil: With Love to Eartha Kitt” -- easily one of the best of last year – is being lavished with long-overdue critical praise. But even the best recording can’t capture the immediacy, intimacy and intense personal commitment of her live performances. Her performance this week, at the unlikely venue of Westminster Canterbury, is well worth trying to find a way to attend.
Rene Marie performs on Friday, May 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the Sara Belle November Westminster Canterbury Theater. The show is free, but subject to availability after residents and wait list applicants.