By Michael Bourne, WBGO
LaTanya Hall owns a variegated curriculum vitae.
She’s worked all around show biz. She was a Miss America finalist. She played the young Lena Horne in the workshop of a bio-musical. She starred on the road in the musical Dreamgirls.
She was a backup singer with Harry Belafonte early on, and for years she’s been a voice behind (or in a spotlight with) some of the best artists across the musical spectrum — especially Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, and Bobby McFerrin.
She’s been working especially in recent years alongside Catherine Russell and Carolyn Leonhart as singers with Steely Dan.
Say Yes is her newest solo album, and she’s pulled out all the stops to be a jazz singer: standards (“Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye,” “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise,” and “Poor Butterfly”), a Joni Mitchell song (“Fiddle and the Drum”), a Jonatha Brooke song (“Because I Told You So”), and jazz classics by Fats Waller, Benny Golson, Nat Adderley, Clare Fischer and Thelonious Monk (“Pannonica” and “Well, You Needn’t”).
LaTanya is joined on the new album by her husband, Juno-winning pianist Andy Milne, as her producer and arranger. They’re performing at the Birdland Theatre on Thursday at 7 p.m. And they performed together when LaTanya came to sing and laugh with Michael Bourne on Singers Unlimited.