When The Washington Post wrote about her last year, Angela Bofill, whose R&B and jazz songs topped the charts in the ’70s and ’80s, was climbing on stage at the Birchmere under the marquee: the Angela Bofill Experience. After two major strokes, her speech was impaired, and instead of showing off the perfect pitch that had made her famous, Bofill sat in a chair narrating her life story as another singer sang her hits.
“I used to study opera,” Bofill told the capacity crowd. “Used to teach voice. Used to have perfect pitch. Now, no pitch. Bad pitch. Frustrated — little bit. Half my life, singing. First time. No sing.”
On Wednesday, Bofill returns to the Birchmere. Her speech has improved, and she is able to walk. “Much progress,” she says. “This time, I walk on stage. Yay! Amen to that. Wheelchair. Drag.
“Still. No singing. Not yet.” But, she says, “I started out again playing piano. But only one hand. Left hand no work still.”
When she will sing again, Bofill says, “God only knows.” Until then, she plans to continue to tour with her band, led by flautist Dave Valentin. This time, Broadway star Melba Moore will sing Bofill’s hits, taking over for Maysa, who performed last year.
“I thought it would be intimidating,” Moore says. “But she is a gentle, sweet thing. You can’t be intimidated.” Moore says it has been fascinating to interpret Bofill’s music. “Her voice is very, very different from mine,” says Moore, who is a soprano. Bofill is an alto. So, Moore made some changes in her singing. “She wrote these songs. I didn’t want to make them mine.”
Bofill says she will continue to perform and hopes to sing again soon. “I born to perform. Perform in the blood,” she says. “After the show, I meet a lot of fans. Different stories, the fans tell me. My music. The music is the soundtrack to their life.”
Later this month, Bofill’s 1978 debut, “Angie,” will be re-released. And this summer, TV One’s “Unsung,” a series of hour-long programs featuring artists whose musical careers faded, will feature Bofill’s life story.
7:30 p.m. at the Birchmere,
3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Call 703-549-7500 or visit birchmere.com.