Immediately after kicking off her show Saturday night at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, singer Millie Jackson kicked off her shoes. She reared her head back, let loose with an "Ew Lawd!" and sent out a string of four-letter words that left the lovely chandeliers all a-tinkle.
And that was just the warm-up.
Jackson's performance was a double-barreled musical blast filled with soul music of the most soulful sort and high-steppin', hip-swinging, eye-and-ear-withering displays. Vamping about the stage in a oddly shaped, tassled dress and belting out her songs, she seemed at times like a cross between Josephine Baker, Ray Charles and a lamp shade.
And her voice! It kept up with all the bombast, emotion for emotion and decibel for decibel. Rough, raw, husky, smooth, it wrapped itself around Rod Stewart's "Passion" and romped through a funky (funky?!) version of "I Can't Stop Loving You." She included songs by Merle Haggard, Neil Diamond and Kenny Loggins, rendering each unrecognizable -- for the better -- with some of the finest wrenching moans and brassy high notes since the early days of Aretha Franklin.
There are many words to describe Millie Jackson, but only one will do: WHEW!