Transformed by Art: Momentous Occastions in 2012

I contributed a piece about Krystle Warren for The Kansas City Star’s year-end review for experiences in the arts. Kansas City is a great community to live in and I consider myself very lucky to comment on the experience on a consistent basis.

For a short time, the piece is available here. (No longer available 5/26/16, so I’ve posted the text here.):


When Kansas City native Krystle Warren ambled out of the blue side lighting at London’s Hammersmith Apollo one night last month, the applause was welcoming but reserved. My husband and I had an idea what we were going to hear, but a few thousand Londoners did not. On the candlelit stage, she gave a brief nod before singing Kate McGarrigle’s “I Don’t Know,” accompanied sparingly by piano.

“You ask me what it’s all about,” she crooned, her voice dusky, deep for such a small frame, her hands gently twisting the air as she spun out the phrases. She has sung all over the world to innumerable crowds, but with the same intimacy that she displayed when she was couch-surfing in Kansas City, performing at such humble places as Prospero’s Books or the RecordBar.

Warren was on tour as a backup singer with Rufus Wainwright, in a show that ranged from flamboyant pop-rock to heart-on-sleeve sorrow to a manic finale featuring tinsel, body glitter and a man-sized foam sandwich.

Her solo was a respite of introspective singularity, bereft of hyperbole and overzealous flash.

Warren wrenched lyrics around, eliding phrases, sustaining, almost gnawing on syllables. Her voice absorbed energy, and we were all twisted up in that energy, pulled forward with every breath.

The audience’s response when she finished shook the plaster in its enthusiasm.

| Libby Hanssen, a freelance writer whose music reviews appear frequently in The Star

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