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Cassandra Wilson's Musical Journey

You never know what Cassandra Wilson might sing.

From album to album, she has shown bold originality, weaving a rich tapestry of music from jazz to folk, pop to blues. A recent sold-out concert at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco proved that Wilson is still unconfined by musical boundaries.

Barefoot and wearing a white dress, Wilson opened with Bob Dylan’s "Lay Lady Lay," wrapping her deep, rich voice around the line "Lay across my big brass bed."

Her last CD, "Belly of the Sun," saw Wilson return to her Mississippi roots. Recorded in the old Clarksdale train depot as well as a boxcar, the album is steeped in blues and other influences sprouting from the fertile Delta soil. It is terrain that Wilson continues to explore. Her next album is expected to be a continuation of this journey.

She offered a searing rendition of Robert Johnson’s "32-20 Blues." She swayed, snapped her fingers, tapped her open hand against her chest.

The audience felt comfortable enough with the artist Time magazine named "America’s best singer" to call out requests. When one member yelled for Van Morrison’s "Tupelo Honey" from her 1993 CD "Blue Light ‘Til Dawn," Wilson noted that the song goes way back. She explained that her five-member band was new and had not worked out all of her older material.

She did sing her version of the Monkees’ "Last Train to Clarksville," stepping away from the microphone to deliver the last line on her own immense power.

Highlights of the 90-minute show also included "Diary of a Fool," "Drunk as Cooter Brown" and "Waters of March."

Her encore included "You Gotta Move" and her original ballad "Until."

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Cassandra Wilson
  • Concert Date: 1/31/2003
  • Venue: Great American Music Hall
  • City State Country: San Francisco, Calif.
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