"If you have a tie on, please take it off. Please get loose," said Jean Carn to a near capacity crowd at the Carter Barron Amphitheater Saturday night. She might have suggested, too, that they tuck their umbrellas away, for the rain that threatened to disrupt the free concert never came.
Carn no longer lives in Washington, but she still has a strong following here, and for good reason. Her voice is supple, her range is dynamic, and her rapport with an audience is complete. In sequins and chiffon, she strutted across the stage singing mostly her R&B hits, songs that seem to owe as much to her producers, Gamble and Huff, as to her early training in jazz. Typically, she'd begin a romantic ballad softly, sometimes barely audibly, and build it to a feverish pitch. On Dexter Wansel's "Let's Be Together" and her latest release "Love Don't Love Nobody," she wrenched the crowd from its seats when her voice, choked with emotion, finally erupted in a cathartic falsetto.
Before closing, Carn dedicated a song to the children of Atlanta. She asked that everyone light a match and hold it high at some point during the song. Moments later the amphitheater was transformed into a vast sea of flickering lights, a sight that put the empty sky above to shame.