I'm in the Blue Rock Shoot in Saratoga, listening to Vienna Teng performing selected songs from her album, Waking Hour. A few members of the audience close their eyes while the music is playing.
One of the things I enjoy about live performances is the opportunity to observe an artist's charisma - absent the benefits of filters or studio editing. When we talk about charisma, many people unconciously connect the term to individuals with 'big personalities' - glib extroverts like Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams or Anthony Robbins. Charming extroverts are the most obvious examples of personal magnetism, but I've also come derive a great deal of pleasure from interacting with those who have what I've come to call 'quiet charisma' ... people who'd score very strong "I"s (Introversion) on the Myers-Briggs personality test but nonetheless have commanding presence in the right circumstances. Quiet charisma is a rare, subtle pleasure - and I got a good measure of it at Vienna's concert.
The contrast between her speaking and singing voice was the first thing that I (and probably most people) notice: from a bright soprano that shines throughout her eclectic discography - to a smooth alto speaking voice that summon images of a bygone era - of chrome-trimmed black Cadillacs, hard-bitten private eyes and bootleg whiskey. In between songs, she banters with the audience and introduces each piece with stories on the story behind the score - offering humerous and thoughtful snapshots of her life that sparked the inspiration for soulful ballards like "Gravity" and more energetic, upbeat numbers like "Enough To Go By."
All in all, an evening well-spent. I ordered her CD and eagerly await her next concert.