The ever graceful matriarch of Oklahoma’s talented Sullivan clan (including performers KT and Stacy Sullivan), takes the stage, she tells us, after a roller coaster year of two family weddings, a health scare, and a tragic death embracing gratitude with gale force determination. Vulnerable and steely, she finds palpable strength in faith, love, and creativity. The room is with her in no uncertain terms.
Elizabeth’s 19th! New York Birthday/Mother’s Day concert begins with a whispery “Too Shy”: I have words I wish I could say/And notes…but I’m too shi..iii…iii… The song is sweet and droll; her acting charming. Next is the poem Mother’s Robe: A mother’s robe grows thin…describing the different perspective of a mother and her children to which we can all relate. Following suit “I’m Not Your Hero” (written with daughter Heather Sullivan) declares I don’t want be your hero, I want to be a sparrow in the wind…a melody in your mind…putting her progeny’s independence first.
The artist has a small voice full of warmth and sincerity; lyrics resonate. Both KT and Stacy Sullivan speak of their mom with visceral devotion.
Stacy Sullivan and KT Sullivan
Songs written for Elizabeth’s beloved (deceased) husband include “My Little World” – sensitively performed by Stacy Sullivan – who understands, “Remember You”: No…You have never left my mind/to require remembering… (an insightful awareness), and perhaps my favorite, “Not Tonight.”: There may be a time when I’ll not want you/But not tonight, not tonight…The artist and her husband exemplify an enviable love story.
KT Sullivan offers “How Were We To Know?” which describes meeting her husband Steve in 1997”: How were we to know/Who’s to answer why/With our first hello/We couldn’t say goodbye…The song arrives with recognition, thanks, a dash of surprise, and a story about her wedding.
Nicole Mitchell; Jeff Harnar
Two poems by Robert Browning set to Elizabeth’s music are presented by guest/opera singer Nicole Mitchell with great expression and fine vocal control. The second, “How Do I Love Thee,” emerges unconditional.
Guest Jeff Harnar, frequent performing partner of KT Sullivan, sings “Angel You Can Fly,” a lyric encouragement. Harnar imbues the song with so much tenderhearted conviction, it’s as if there’s someone just beyond our vision whom he’s addressing. The last note evokes chills .
KT and Stacy Sullivan join for Elizabeth’s signature “As Long As We Sing.” Inspired by Mabel Mercer, the number is an anthem to the art. We close with “Friends” with some of the audience singing along.
What can one say about Elizabeth? Long may she wave.
Photos by Maryann Lopinto
All songs and poems by Elizabeth Sullivan except the Robert Browning she set to music.
Elizabeth Sullivan with Family & Friends
Dennis Buck MD/Pianist
The Laurie Beechman Theatre
407 West 42nd Street
May 13, 2018