Dressed in a checked power suit and a black t-shirt with the word ‘Dyke’ on the front, Lea DeLaria would normally look out of place amongst the sea of sequins and glitter usually associated with cabaret. You may already recognise DeLaria as crowd favourite character, Carrie ‘Big Boo’ Black on Netflix’s hit prison series, Orange Is The New Black. If you haven’t followed her career outside of acting, you would be surprised to hear her that she was an exceptional jazz singer. In Australia for a tour to celebrate her new record, the show is a compilation of David Bowie covers where ‘jazz’ is the new ‘black’.
The late singer and style icon even supported the creation of DeLaria’s fifth album, titled House of David: DeLaria + Bowie = Jazz before his death in 2016. DeLaria has given his songs a new sound through the genre of jazz music that she adores most and is striving to save from dying out.
DeLaria also touches on political issues throughout the show concerning women and the queer community. With her sassy, no-filter approach, she manages to throw a few, ‘F^%$ you’s” towards the Trump family (and Mike Pence). Along with a sex act demonstration and explaining how an airport customs officer recently went through her stash of sex toys, the comedian was not holding back.
Joined by Sylvia Cuenca on percussion, Endea Owena on bass and the incredible Helen Sung on piano the team created fresh and mesmerising take of hits such as “Space Oddity”, “Boys Keep Swinging”, “Lets Dance” and “Fame”. DeLaria’s showcased her ability to scat throughout the show, while Sung’s exceptional talent on the piano was well highlighted through several lengthy solos.
DeLaria’s take on Bowie’s “Life On Mars” was a clear highlight of the show as the much loved song built up to an intense, yet beautiful peak. DeLaria’s strong and powerful jazz vocals made it truly memorable.
Returning to her roots with a nod to her first album with Stephen Sondheim’s “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd,” once again showcased DeLaria’s incredible velvet-like vocals. Ending the show with a stunning jazz-improv encore, DeLaria gives the jazz genre hope of remaining relevant and alive. While we know OITNB is returning for at least another two seasons, ultimately jazz is DeLaria’s heart and soul and it is just beautiful to listen too. Oh, and she “fucking loves Australia” by the way.
Want to learn more about Lea DeLaria? Click here to visit her website.