Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens

Main Stage, Regina SK, August 10

Photo: Peter Scoular

BY James BrotheridgePublished Aug 11, 2014

On her own, Naomi Shelton would be a show and a half. Her Main Stage set at the Regina Folk Festival didn't feature any physical theatrics — her knee replacement surgery a while back saw to that for the septuagenarian. Instead, her onstage authority and draw came from her devout belief: in God, to be sure, an inescapable element in her gospel soul, but also in the music itself. She invested so much into a cover of Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come", a belief that came through in her performance. Shelton's simply an incredible singer, making up for limitations in range with force, character and experience.

Of course, Shelton wasn't alone this night. Daptone Records, home to Shelton as well as other soul revivalists like Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley, always brings out the best backing bands possible, and Shelton had just that. In addition to professionals on keys, drums, bass and guitars, Shelton had three backing singers in the Gospel Queens. Their influence on songs –– whether it was call and response, backing up Shelton, or doing the heavy lifting on a track –– was welcome, and sweetened the whole affair.

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