Reviewed by: Weekend Notes
Review by Fatema Sitabkhan | 07 March 2021

Billie Holiday.
Etta James.
Diana Ross.
Whitney Houston.
Toni Braxton.
Aretha Franklin.

What do all these powerful icons have in common? Well, they are popular in the music industry, obviously. They have created some of the most memorable and revolutionary songs that have made an impression across generations. But what is a lesser-known fact about their history is the level of pain, struggle, and heartbreak that each of these individuals endured that inspired their work to have the impact that it has had on us today. That is exactly what Prinnie Stevens' show Lady Sings the Blues so beautifully resonates with, in a way that tugs at the heart strings and shapes up to be a divine experience for everyone attending.

While Stevens has been renowned for her performances across The Voice and Australian Idol, her show takes audiences down a more poignant path of entertainment. Performing her 'thoughtful cabaret' in a grand theatre fit for a queen, Stevens' vocal talents knows no bounds as she offers her audiences with a raw and heartfelt auditory experience that successfully empowers, entertains, and excites everyone through the tingling sensation of goosebumps that take over your mind, body, and soul. As the queen herself takes on the stage and is backed up by her impressive all-female band (Alex Wignal on the piano and Shireen Khemalani on double bass), there is nowhere else to look and admire than what unfolds right before our eyes.

Sparkling in an elegant ball gown that is accentuated by the spotlight that shines upon Stevens and provides her with an angelic aura, we in the audience are whisked away into a world that comes alive with some of the best classics by the ladies mentioned above. Throughout the solid 60-minute show, we are given a brief rundown of the women pioneers in the music industry, who revolutionized their generation of music with painful yet powerful lived experiences that make their music all the more noteworthy. Through her unique take and style of delivering the powerful lyrics and musical notes, Stevens creates an atmosphere that is spearheaded by themes of female empowerment and an appreciation for the blues genre.

Let's also not forget the natural persona of a showstopper that Stevens carries throughout the show. She was born to be on stage and demands attention with her ability to carefully narrate succinct scripts of each female musician of color who is celebrated throughout the show. Bringing the show home with an homage to her own Polynesian heritage, Stevens performance of "My Island Home" will move you to tears. The show is an emotional rollercoaster but is so well put together that it is a significant and timeless performance.

Lady Sings the Blues deserves to be part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival because it touches on topics of diversity, inclusion, accessibility, thereby giving audiences a reason to reflect and acknowledge through the essence of cabaret and soul.