Vernis Rucker | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Vocalist Vernis Rucker is the latest protege of Quinton Claunch, the fabled Memphis Svengali whose Goldwax label launched the R & B careers of O.V. Wright and James Carr in the 60s. Her debut CD, Stranger in the Sheets, showcases a voice that can segue effortlessly from sexy intimacy through lady-in-the-streets assertiveness all the way to an ecstatic gospel crescendo; she's already learned how to convey strong emotions by undersinging. Whether purring the blues in a sweet, kittenish soprano ("Fishin' for a Man") or gleefully exacting retribution on a recalcitrant lover ("Dead to Right"), Rucker sounds both sensual and refreshingly assertive. Her version of Little Willie John's "Fever" is more of a demand than a caress ("Give me fever!"); even on the most lovelorn ballads she refuses to descend into self-pity, preferring instead a hard-earned tenderness that acknowledges the vicissitudes of romance while reasserting her determination to prevail. Claunch has said he thinks Rucker could go on to be the next Whitney Houston; meanwhile she's one of the more promising young talents to grace the contemporary soul and blues world in some time. Friday and Saturday, 9:30 PM, Rosa's, 3420 W. Armitage; 342-0452.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment