Last night my daughter and I went to a benefit concert put on by my daughter’s high school friend, Carrah Flahive, to support the Pueri Cantores Children’s Choir. Carrah was trained to be an opera singer, but got into jazz. Six months ago she went to Brazil to study Brazilian music. She returned speaking Portuguese well enough to fool a Brazilian and singing bossa nova standards.
The concert was at the Sacred Heart Church in Covina, where the choir, directed by Carrah’s father, practices, so it was one of those events where everyone knows everyone else and one feels like one is in the middle of a huge extended family. The atmosphere was warm, friendly and comfortable. The acoustics were surprisingly good, probably because the hall had been built with choir practice in mind.
It was a pickup band, and Carrah had arranged a lot of the material herself, so beginnings and endings were sometimes a little ragged. Carrah was amazing, however. She sang in Portuguese and English with confidence and skill. She taught us about Brazilian music, and made us love it the way she does. It was hard to believe that she had only been thinking Brazilian for six months.
She sang both Brazilian standards and American jazz standards that she had arranged into a samba style, even an interesting version of “Over the Rainbow.”
The musicians, pickup band that they were, were clearly having a good time. I don’t think they expected Carrah to be so good. For me, part of the enjoyment was hearing them play familiar tunes in unfamiliar arrangements, making it work by attending closely to each other and following Carrah’s lead. In such circumstances, there are some narrow escapes, but also magical moments.
Unfortunately, Carrah doesn’t have any more gigs scheduled before she returns to Brazil. She did say she was working on a CD.