Thornetta Davis | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Detroit singer Thornetta Davis began her career in the 80s singing in cover bands and blues groups. In 1991 she became a backup vocalist for MC5-influenced rockers Big Chief, and the band used her keening wail to good advantage on three albums before breaking up in the mid-90s. Their power chords and spiky metal-infused funk also propelled her through her debut, Sunday Morning Music (Sub Pop, 1996), a harrowing album full of desire and outrage. On the follow-up, Covered Live at the Music Menu (Lady T, 2001), she returned to her roots with a set of blues and jump standards that showcased her voice at its most supple and churchy and her rhythm at its most flexible and swinging. Davis can extend a phrase to daunting lengths without wavering, then sign off with a brash coloratura trill or melismatic descent, but perhaps most impressive is her ability to make virtually any song her own: when she wraps her sinewy alto around "Tyrone," Erykah Badu's tale of a woman who kicks her no-good man to the curb, you wonder how that neosoul hit could have been considered anything but a blues. See also Saturday. Fri 5/6, 9:30 PM, Rosa's Lounge, 3420 W. Armitage, 773-342-0452, $15.

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