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Lockett to perform Etta James tribute

The talent and soul of Etta James will be celebrated Feb. 8 as Cheryl Lockett and the Merced County Arts Council present “The Blues of Etta James” at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center.

“The concert performance is designed to enhance the quality of life within the community through live music performance,” Lockett said, “and take the audience on a journey in time to revisit the music of the late and legendary Etta James, a soulful singer whose music exemplifies the spirit of the blues.”

Curt Nelson has known Lockett for over 15 years, witnessing her performances but also singing with her.

“Cheryl has a beautiful gift, vocally and musically, to be able to shape a moment in song,” Nelson said. “There are many vocalists who can sing a song, but Cheryl crafts moments with her voice that are both artistic and emotionally touching. She goes far beyond learning the songs; she steps into the heart and artistry of the artist she’s portraying.”

Lockett is delighted to perform in the intimate setting of the Merced Multicultural Arts Center. “This type of setting enhances a connection with the audience because concertgoers have an up close and personal encounter with the performers,” she said. “They get to observe every expression and feel the emotions of the material being presented. The event ties the music and the people of the community together, as one heartbeat.”

She’s especially excited to share the music of the legendary James.

“It is the first time that any local artist within the past 10 years has celebrated the spirit of Etta James within a concert setting in the Central Valley,” Lockett said.

She believes there are only so many ways the blues can be presented and that creativity in performance is essential.

“It is important that the performing artists are creative in they way they project and arrange the material,” Lockett said. “The blues are expressive, people can identify with the emotion of the blues. The soul of the artist speaks while concertgoers listen and feel the essence of the music.”