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Growing on stage
Singer dives into acting, dance
A lot has happened to jazz singer Napua Davoy since she was last here a year-and-a-half ago. Back in June 2003, she was talking about developing a theatrical piece about her Lahaina-born mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's Disease. Now, it's a reality, signaling the opening of the floodgates of creativity for Davoy.
"It traces my family's experience in the last 50 years. This should be especially relevant for baby boomers, who are looking at their parents' decline, and the subject matter, not only about Alzheimer's, but how we relate to family and live life. Lyrically, it's my writing, with three Kondakov compositions." (Andre Kondakov is the Russian jazz composer she first met while working in a St. Petersburg nightclub, and has since toured Russia, Europe and the United States with him.)
"I've also been studying dance for three years, singing all this kind of music, acting, communicating -- oooh boy, I can't tell you how much fun I'm having!"
Davoy says she's also finishing up another theatrical piece, a musical called "Miami."
"I was trying to write eight big band arrangements in six weeks in June while in Germany. I'd never done it before ... and by the fifth week, I only had a quarter of them done. You know that feeling when a big tsunami is coming -- the ocean pulls away from the shore, and you know something's coming? June 10th came around and (here, she's makes a popping sound), 'Miami' comes to me with a nine-point plot and with two characters. It's a romantic tragedy in 1939, filled with Afro-Cuban music. It's Puccini meets Jobim, with elements of 'West Side Story' and 'Carmen.'
"So it pays to do meditation and not having a bad boyfriend!," she says with a laugh, then scatting some of the lyrics about love of money. "It's going to be Ailey meets Fosse!"
Davoy plans to sing some of the music from both of her theatrical pieces tonight, accompanied by local guitarist Shoji Ledward.
The response to previous performances of her Alzheimer's work has been "people crying and laughing, wanting to talk afterwards. It's like opening a zipper. They get pulled into this highly dramatic story, and the music makes it that much stronger. ... I'm telling my story and my family's story, and the art that happens from complete chaos to something we have learned and loved a lot."
Davoy, who has college degrees in literature, says that to expand as an artist beyond singing jazz, "I've had to reinvent myself. I wasn't much as an actress -- in 1996, I was in a couple of avant-garde operas, and I felt so uncomfortable. But, in Australia, I was in a great cast, with excellent Shakespearean characters, and I learned that there's this vocabulary, and I went from singer to actor, going to a much more powerful place.
"All my chakras are lined up," she says, with a laugh. "I've become an antenna. I've never experienced such unprecedented creativity."
Then she says softly, "It has been magical."
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