India.Arie hits SA with a bang

Gugu Sibiya

Gugu Sibiya

India.Arie came to Carnival City, conquered and held the audience spellbound, seriously eclipsing Oleta Adams' opening show.

Sporting a flowing white coat dress covered with two contrasting scarves, she launched into a set she described as a story told backwards.

The fired-up Arie pranced around the stage, flailing her arms around dramatically, effectively showing off the huge bell sleeves.

It became clear that she was on a striptease mission when she started removing her clothes - to reveal a stunning multicoloured top over a yellow skirt ball gown.

Unlike her gospel counterpart Oleta, who was only on the piano while singing, India kicked off her set on the keyboards, then graduated to a flute and her guitar.

Her voice enveloped the auditorium, holding the audience captive though her repertoire contained few of her hits.

India's version of Bob Marley's Redemption Song got the audience dancing. She delivered good music, enhanced by her sizzling band and good dancing.

After dancing with one of her backing singers, India told fans that Winnie Madikizela-Mandela had come to her dressing-room to hug her. She also said she visited Nelson Mandela in 2004.

Not only has she mastered her magical stage craft, but she is musically mature and eager to please her fans rather than taking them for granted like so many American artists.

Where Oleta's performance was delivered in front of her piano, India pranced around and occasionally disappeared from the stage.

Oleta, whose voice at one point cracked, still got applause from her audience, who joined her in singing Many Rivers To Cross, Don't Let TheSun Go Down and others.

But she was not at her best as at the Market Theatre, where she sang Don't Let The Sun Go Down in a duet with Rebecca Malope.