Wednesday, August 21, 1974
THE MICHIGAN DAIL
Minnie Riperton: Incredible vocals
By GLORIA JANE SMITH
MINNIE RIPERTON - remember that
name, 'cuz if the ears of dj's, critics,
and the mass listening/buying public
don't go stone tone deaf tomorrow, it's
a name that will soon join the haflowed
ranks of 'best female vocalists.'
Her voice defies comparison. just
sends those chills running up and down
your spine. It's a powerful voice wan
an incredible range - FIVE octaves.
And Minnie has more going for her
than just an impressive voice. There's
the personal encouragement of Stevie
Wonder (he wrote two songs for her
debut lp on Epic, Perfect Angel, and
Wonderlove backed her in the studio).
There's a familiarity with the business
(years of studio work, including every-
thing from Clearisil commercials to
singing with Rotary Connection). And
finally, there's just a whole lot of very
positive 'good vibes' energy.
In Detroit, Minnie delivers a 'stand-
ing ovation' performance to a Crusaders
crowd. The audience is more than appre-
ciative, they're stunned. "Whew! Ain't
never heard sounds like that" is a fair-
ly typical comment. "I'm really glad
that people are digging it. It's really im-
portant to me. I think if you're going
to entertain, it should be something dif-
ferent, something unusual. People should
get off on it."
"My music is my revolution," she con-
tinues. "We think about how the world
is a ghetto, how sad everything is, and
it really isn't, you know?"
True to her convictions, this sweet lit-
tle lady froom Chicago sings a repertoire
of soul, jazz and pop that consciously
excludes anything bluesy or melancholy.
The eighth child in a musical family,
26-year-old Minnie recalls that growing
up "everybody sang or played piano or
something - that was our lives." At
eleven, she was studying opera, and
three years later she had joined up with
the Gems, a female pop group. By 1963,
she'd been signed by Chess Records.
She's worked in the studio with Ro-
berta Flack, Quincy Jones, Freddie Hub-
bard and many others. "It was a nice
experience, something I wanted to do,"
she says. "Just the energy . . . I believe
in collecting energy and I feel a certain
intake of energy from people like those
sorts of people."
Oddly enough, Minnie was "about 18 or
19" before realizing the full potential of
her own voice. "I just started concen-
trating a little on this, a little on that,"
she remembers. "The more people dug
it and thought it was unusual, the more
I kept working on it."
"Before then, musicians would tell me
that I was far-out, but I just thought
they were guys trying to compliment
me 'cuz they were asking for 'you know
what' too. Even my music teacher, she
never got into it. She just helped me
develop it. I guess she just didn't want
me to freak out. Who knows? I think
she used psychology."
For awhile, it looked as if Minnie's
career in music had collapsed. She was
teaching music, settled with her hus-
band in Gainesville, Florida. Shortly af-
ter their second child was born, how-
ever, a casual conversation between two
friends led to her prompt return to the
stage and studio.
A friend of hers named Jeff was talk-
ing to one of his friends, Steve Slutza*
of Epic Records, about "music and fe-
males they knew," Minnie explains.
Steve said there was "only one chick,
she used to sing for Rotary Connec-
tion. He said he'd been looking for her
for three years." Realizing tat this
was Minnie, Jeff put the two in contact
with each other. Soon after that, Slutzab
and Epic VP Don Ellis were on their
way to Gainesville, contract in hand.
"They didn't come to audition me,"
Minnie remembers. "They wanted to
know if the record company was worthy
of me. I thought that was . very im-
pressive. It's been a beautiful relation-
ship. It's perfect to have a record com-
pany that's right there with you."
Right there, just like her rapidly grow-
ing cult of followers.
"It's been a year of non-stop work,"
says Minnie Riperton. "There's been a
lot of energy pouring out." Plans for
the future include going back to the
studio before 1975. Immediate plans?
"We're just going to go on a little vaca-
duction'takes CSNY in Cleveland next week
WMv/ Ci immWr iji Bt
\.+Ir f.r! j +..i V ! I if # . %,*/ Ffto / V 4 a By IRIS BELL do not paint their faces or wear
By C. ALTON
For an opera buff, especially
a Mozart fan, Saturday night's
performance on The Abduction
from the Seraglio was the per-
fect remedy for summertime
The music school's produc-
tion, as usual, was simply ter-
rific. No one at Lydia Mendel-
ssohn Theatre had to make any
apologies - this "college show"
was strictly a professional job
all the way. And a sold-out
house at Mendelssohn showed
their approval with loud and
Abduction is your basic Mozart
comic opera in the tradition
of Marriage of Figaro and Bar-
ber of Seville - light, trivial
(even silly) colorful and roman-
The plot, such as it is, follows
the adventures of a young Span-
ish nobleman who journeys to
Turkey to free his beloved Con-
stanza who has been captured
The young lover, Belmonte,
was ably done byJerrold Van-
der Schaaf, while Constanza was
sung by Ashley Putnam.
The Turkish lord holding Con-
stanza, Bassa Selim, was. sung
by Thomas Jenrette.
The real stars of. the eve-
ning, however, were Ken Hicks,
Franklin Summers and Julia
Hicks sang Perdrillo, Bel-
monte's rascally servent, and
Conwell was Blonda, Constan-
za's maid and Perdillo's lover.
Summers took the part of Os-
min, the clownish overseer of
Bassa Selim's harem.
All three put in energetic, and
yet polished performances.
Summers' best scene, in which
he anticipates, with evil glee,
the execution of Belmonte, is a
comedy classic - in Broad-
way's termonology, a "show
And Conwell's was simply
electric - all energy and ani-
mation, a dynamite performer.
And herein lies the only crit-
icism I have to offer of the en-
In Abduction, and other sim-
iliar music school productions
I've seen, the persons singing
the "serious" parts are all too
often played off the stage by
those with the comic roles.
I don't believe this can be
attributed to over-acting on the
part of people like Conwell and
Rather, I think those who
have the leads need to act a
Understandably, it's easier to
bring off an attention-getting
role like that of Osmin, but a
stronger performance by the
romantic leads would give these
shows a little better balance.
As usual, the orchestra was
magnificent Saturday and much
credit goes to Music Director
and Conductor Josef Blatt.
)latt also, by the way, does
the translations which are mar-
In 1970, Crosby, Stills, Nash
and Young appetred in this area
for the last time as a group at
Olympia Stadium, Detroit.
On May 23, 1974, a small item
appeared in the Detroit Free
Press, stating that Crosby,
Stills, Nash and Young would
be together again "after four
years of going it apart." The
columnist,nShirley Eder, fur-
ether commented, "That doesn't
exactly send shivers up y
spine, but it may yours."
It does. And not just mine,
but there are millions of peo-
ple who react with wild joy to
the opportunity to see The Le-
CSNY do not sing like Bing
Crosby or Paul Anka or burn
guitars or kill baby chicks; they
ruby slippers with platform sol-
es and heels,
The Cleveland performance is
on Saturday, August 31 in Cleve-
land Stadium at 4 p.m. - their
only appearance west of Buf-
falo and east of Chicago. Open-
ing the concert will be Santana
and The Band. You can buy
tickets at Grinnell's on Main
Street in Ann Arbor and at the
Briarwood Grinnell's, price is
If you have never heard t he
music as CSNY, what can I
say to you except that the mu-
sic is exquisite. It is not Bach
and they do not perform in
white tie and tails, although it
would no be inappropriate were
they to do so. They are the
aristocrats of popular music-
very urbane, very sophisticat-
ed, at home on the Continent
as well as here.
They have become million-
aires on the strength of two
albums and a few personal ap-
pearances of the caliber of the
Monterey Pop Festival, and
Woodstock, plus their tours,
both individually. and together,
and their own solo albums.
Crosby, Stills and Nash, the
first album, aside from the 'vrit-
ing, singing, and playing of
Nash and Crosby, is the work of
Stephen Stills. Besides his writ-
ing, his singing, and his play-
ing, he also produced the deli-
cately-lavered ten-track record-
ing. He played bass, organ, and
several guitar tracks,
Many come to Crosby, Stills,
Nlash, and Yo'ng as skeptics --
from classical backgrounds, or
middle-of-the-road music, or
blues or rock and roll or what-
ever. This is truly original mu-
sic, flavored by all their exper-
iences, shaded with jazz and
country - not simple: music to
be uplifted by and to be fired
with ambition by. The audiences
of Crosby, Stills, Nash and
Young pay tfor music so truly
fine that the phenomenon is ex-
plainable only by one's desire
to be led to become more than
An interesting extra is t ha t
$260,000 worth of Astroturf will
be brought on the tour to- pro-
tect existing Astroturf in stad-
iums from cigarette burns and
As usual when attending fes-
tivals of this type, bring blan-
kets to sit on the field, orwatch
from the box seats or stands.