Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
There was much rejoicing at Lisner Auditorium Sunday evening. The reason: Joyce Bryant had returned to Washington after many years' absence to perform a benefit concert for the Frederick Wilkerson Scholarship Foundation.
Suffering from an attack of flu, Bryant made last-minute changes in her program, deleting the spirituals and classical songs, and performing, instead, what amounted to about three club shows of pop material in torch/blues/jazz style.
Her voice was shaky at first, noticeably raspy and uneven, especially when she sang softly. It was hard to distingusih breathiness from hoarseness. Her voice was best in its alto register; her famed four-octave range was not displayed.
Her voice grew stronger as the concert progressed, and the audience was treated to a glimpse of her eal magnificence in her interpretation of Dan Hill's and Barry Mann's "Sometimes When We Touch." Fraught with the potential for maudlin overstatement, the song was delivered with control, power and believability.
By the end of the concert her voice shone with a luster and patina which come from maturity and experience. If this is Bryant in bad voice, I can't wait to hear her again in good.