"'Black Pearls' is a wonderful and highly talented work, very carefully compiled adn brought forth from a performer who has outstanding talent and style. Jenni ranks with the best."
"Jenni's rich brand of jazz is the perfect antidote to the northern New England climate--it warms you up on those cold winter nights and cools you out on the hot summer ones. We love Jenni's music, and frequently make a gift of her CDs to friends who, unfortunately, live in other parts of the country, and can't see her perform live."
"I enjoyed it (CD) very much. You have a very smooth, jazzy and sensual sound. The added treat of a synopsis of the original singers' lives before the cuts brought your CD together and made it whole.
I wish you continued success. Do you ever sing in Philadelphia? It's my home and maybe I can catch you there sometimes."
"This is a generous and friendly collection of popular classics.
Jenni has a silky voice and a panoramic range.
It's great being able to understand how the great singers of the twentieth century relate to each other historically."
Barbara (owner of Scrumptious),
"Jenni Johnson, Black Pearls, in Concert (Eatherlee Records, CD) - Jenni Johnson is on a mission to bring back the black female blues and jazz singers from the 1920s through the 1940s. Actually, Ma Rainey, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Nina Simone, Etta James and Roberta Flack have never ceased influencing contemporary music, but the hard-working Burlington chanteuse revives them by performing their songs as they might have sounded decades ago.
With her latest live release, 'Black Pearls', In Concert Johnson sings an impressive variety of songs from this rich period of American music, while offering a crash course in teh lives of the women she is honoring. A lesser singer would not have been able to pull off this daunting task, but Johnson shows she has the startling range that good blues singers have, effortlessly shifting from heartbreak to happiness.
The somber tone is lifted on the sixth song, "Swing Brother, Swing," made famous by Holiday. the change in mood is welcome, but the song doesn't swing as much as the title implies. Johnson sounds more natural singing slower and more emotional songs, like the Dinah Washington classic that follows, "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes."
Younger pop music fans might find it odd to hear Flack's "Killing Me Softly," if they know only the Fugees' late '90s version. "Kids think that this is their song - I don't think so," Johnson says playfully on stage, determined to teach twentysomethings about the roots of their music.
Johnson names these tunes after the black pearls found in the South Pacific islands, and she makes a point to mention that specialized divers are required to bring them to the surface. Johnson is one of these "divers," plunging into the depths of music history."
December 19, 2001