Last November, the first Divas of D.C. benefit show rocked the house at Falls Church's State Theatre, but now it's Old Town's turn to experience a quintuple bill of some of the area's great female vocalists, united in spreading some early holiday cheer.
Contrary to standard definitions of the word, these five divas are true sweethearts who are donating their time and talent to raise money for two charities, the Whitman-Walker Clinic and the Campagna Center. All have powerful voices and strong stage presence. Each pursues a variety of styles, including jazz, blues, pop, rock and R&B.
Annie Sidley (www.anniesidley.com) is a longtime Live! favorite who has been compared to Aretha Franklin and Chaka Kahn. She has released two CDs ("Other Side of the Sun" and "History") and is a veteran of many area clubs and prestige gigs, including the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage and National Capital Barbecue Battle. Sidley's soulful pop-rock includes both classic covers and her own material, often written with her musical director, co-producer and husband, Steve.
Jazz vocalist Danielle Westphal (www.daniellewestphal.com) released her first album, "High Standards," in 2002, after which the All Music Guide named her among "the most talented and entertaining jazz performers" in our area, praising her "lilting delivery" and "keen sense of timing." Westphal has built a loyal local following with gigs at Mama's Italian Restaurant, Blues Alley and Bangkok Blues, among other venues. She performed twice at receptions for the Clintons during their time in the White House.
As her Web domain (www.jazzy-indigoblu.com) indicates, Indigo is a vocalist with a jazzy touch, though her interpretation of modern standards can also kick some serious funk. She has performed at the Corcoran Gallery of Art as a founding member of the Jazz Gospel Ensemble.
Carol Gaylor is known to local listeners for her work in the acoustic jazz duo Lambert and Gaylor, though she has recently begun concentrating on writing songs as a solo act. Gaylor was awarded a silver prize and two honorable mentions in this year's Mid-Atlantic Songwriter's Contest for one of her songs, and another, co-written with Westphal, was a finalist.
Melanie Mason (www.melaniemason.com), meanwhile, is a hard-rockin' blues maven whose guitar playing -- both electric lead and acoustic -- has earned her comparisons to Bonnie Raitt.
-- MARIANNE MEYER
The Old Town Theater is at 8151/2 King St., Alexandria. For more information call 703-683-8888 or visit www.oldtowntheater.com. Tickets are $30 and include an open buffet from 7 to 8:30 pm. Tickets can be purchased online at www.oldtowntheater.com, by fax at 703-683-8487 or in person at the Old Town Theater box office. For information about the charities or to make a donation, e-mail email@example.com.