Raven O :: A NYC "Icon" Returns
The unabashedly talented Raven O has been away too long from the New York City nightlife scene. The last time the jazz artist/storyteller/vocal dynamo/cultural provocateur graced a Big Apple stage, he performed to sold out venues on his "One Night With You" musical revue. Fortunately for NYC audiences, the former Bar d’O creative-construct out of downtown’s "The Box" is back for a return engagement - an unadulterated night of entertainment - at Joe’s Pub.
Once again collaborating with longtime musical director, composer and bassist Ben Allison, Raven O is promising a special evening for his audience of fans. The show’s title "Icon" may appear self-indulgent to some, but it’s not meant to appear self-referential. It’s not the intent of the artist at all. The title refers to the carefully manicured setlist which will pay homage to some of the greatest musical performers in contemporary pop-culture, crisscrossing genres and mixing styles in a way that only Raven O, accompanied on the bass by Allison (of course), could pull off.
"After three years, I’m very happy to be back performing in New York," Raven O said. "This show is basically a tribute to iconic artists in music; all the people that have influenced me." The evening’s repertoire will include music that will run the gamut of generations, from punk acts like David Bowie, to big band club headliners like Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash and Mel Tormé, and even some Shirley Bassey sprinkled in for sass. Every song will be given a unique arrangement, à la Raven O, and one track in particular will come as a treat, even more so to Raven O himself.
Jazz songstress Sarah Vaughan is among those artists Raven O is paying homage to in the eclectic performance that evening. "I’m doing a song that basically only her fans will have heard. My arrangement is inspired by hers." All the songs will undoubtedly be laced with Raven O’s own anecdotes and uniquely imagined story-telling that sets his shows apart from all others, but the audience will certainly be entertained by this gifted musician’s unique approach. "I’ve always been inspired by these artists. So I wanted to do all the icons - sort of like an icons: volume 1."
Tough Act to Follow
No stranger to NYC’s lounge and cabaret scene, the athletically acrobatic dancer made his way to the bright lights of New York at the tender age of 17. He’d won a dance competition - and the grand prize was a one-way ticket to his future starring roles. Raven O instantly grabbed every spectator’s attention when he propped himself up on the podium as one of the original Limelight Nightclub’s go-go dancers.
With his beautifying, gender-bending antics he partnered with and became legendary alongside Joey Arias and drag-comic Sherry Vine igniting the popularly glamorous Bar d’O scene. Raven O would earn the title of "Ringleader of Debauchery" performing at The Box. This underground, sometimes elitist club scene, attracted A-list actors and entertainers, as well as artists from all walks of life including Sting, Alan Cumming, and Lindsay Lohan to name a few.
He’s toured the world and even starred in Cirque du Soleil’s "Zumanity" in Las Vegas, but Raven O has always called New York City home and is anxious to return to Joe’s Pub with "Icon". With this return to the spotlight at a venue that has embraced Raven O’s ability to masterfully sway captive his audience, the performer is hopeful that "Icon" will be the first of a series of performances. "Everything I do is connected to my life. It’s very difficult for me to fake it." A common thread always relevant in Raven O’s show is his ability to evolve the musical set list into a revelatory narrative. "I’ll be telling several stories [through the songs] that will establish a connection."
What doesn’t need to be established is Raven O’s undying love and connection to New York City and the nightlife culture that propelled his platform, allowing him to emerge onto the national scene. "It’s important for me, even if I’m on vacation to perform a gig - or two, or three - in New York, especially letting my audience know that I’m still here. People have asked where I’ve been!" Raven O is back..so start spreading the news!