On Friday, Nov. 16, at 7:30 p.m., two-time Grammy winner and regional Emmy winner Sylvia McNair performed with SVSU visiting artist Kevin Cole, an award-winning pianist.
McNair has been a soprano opera, oratio, cabaret and musical theatre vocalist for three decades. She has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony and the Pittsburgh Symphony.
McNair and Cole performed together in the Rhea Miller Recital hall for a free concert. The theatre was filled to capacity, and an overflow room in Curtiss was also filled. The concert was streamed live on YouTube for those who were turned away or unable to attend the event.
McNair sang George Gershwin’s “The Man I Love” and “Summertime” while Cole accompanied her on the piano.
Before McNair and Cole sang “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” together, McNair described the “one time” she had an argument with Cole.
“In all those 15 and half years Kevin Cole and I have known each other, we have only had one (disagreement),” she said. “So, we were in Kansas, God knows why, and I wanted to sing the piece in B-flat, but he wanted me to sing it in C. … We sang it in B-flat.”
She ended the song by fist-bumping Cole. McNair then left the stage, and Cole detailed his several upcoming shows. He then played his “Berlin Film Fantasy.”
Cole played several other solo pieces. He also premiered an original song that McNair sung. McNair played fiddle for a song while Cole played the accompaniment.
After McNair left the stage, Cole performed solo “Everything Goes” and “Riding High.”
McNair rejoined Cole and ended the night with a special performance of “Forever Young” that she dedicated to the SVSU students in attendance. She had met several of these students on Wednesday, Nov. 14, as she had given a master class in vocal performance to students of Kevin Simons, an associate professor of music.
Kylie Hawkins, a musical education junior, enjoyed the performance and was encouraged by the packed audience.
“I feel like it’s a good thing (to have an overflow room), since it means so many people came out to see the artists,” Hawkins said. “I’ve heard a lot about the performers, so I (was looking) forward to the concert.”
While many students in attendance had not heard of McNair before her SVSU visit, Felicity Soares-Chabot, a musical education freshman, was already familiar with her work.
“I had heard of her before her visit,” Soares-Chabot said. “My teacher loves her. (McNair) is a very talented singer.”