Women of the World Dublin St. Church, Guelph, ON March 5

Three distinctive vocalists commemorated International Women’s Day in a uniquely memorable collaborative concert. Toronto alt-blues crooner Ndidi Onukwulu, Nunavut-bred throat singer Tanya Tagaq, and classical Indian artist Kiran Ahluwalia each played very short sets before joining up for an improvised, workshop-style get-together at evening’s end. Opening the show, Onukwulu displayed an unwarranted assuredness that was more off-putting than charming. Her fairly straightforward use of a big voice amounted to more bluster than substance and, while she’d redeem herself later, it was tricky to connect with her rambling, moralistic anecdote before "The Last Time.” Though equally airy-fairy, the sultry Tagaq commands attention before she even begins performances replete with big time sensuality. She earnestly revealed a desire to open up to audiences more as a creative artist. "Also, I’m very close to having my period,” she concluded, getting big laughs from the mostly female crowd. With her jarring throat singing, Tagaq sounds like your car engine having sex with itself or some forlorn creature crying out in pain and longing. Sharing complementary bass and cello accompaniment with Onukwulu, Tagaq was completely immersed in every utterance. Singing Indian songs beautifully, accompanied by tabla, harmonium, and guitarist Rez Abbasi, Ahluwalia completely captivated the room with preambles explaining the songs’ origins and meanings. With an elder’s aura, Ahluwalia prompted Onukuwulu and Tagaq on stage. Again, Onukwulu initially was overly familiar with the audience, bombing with a joke about sign language. She stood quietly during the first Indian folk song "Koka,” while Tagaq got right into it. A dissonant dirge emerged out of looped cello, with Tagaq and Onukwulu caressing one another while emoting. Eventually the three voices and sounds melded for a wonderful folk song led by Onukwulu who salvaged herself, leaving a pleased congregation demanding more.