Concert preview: 'My family is just my heart and my joy,' says acclaimed soloist Audra McDonald

Published: Saturday, Aug. 31 2013 12:00 p.m. MDT

McDonald will be performing her three Utah concerts to promote “Go Back Home,” her first release in seven years. (“Life happened,” she has said to explain the gap. “And I wasn't quite ready to say anything. I was like, ‘I don't want to force it. I don’t want to make an album simply to make an album. I need to have something to say.’ ”)

The CD includes classics dedicated to her daughter, Sondheim’s "The Glamorous Life" and "First You Dream" from the John Kander and Fred Ebb show "Steel Pier." It also highlights younger composers such as Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler (the hilarious "Baltimore"), Adam Gwon (a heartbreaking song titled "I'll Be Here") and two songs by Michael John LaChiusa ("Virtue" and "Married Love").

Accompanied on the acoustic guitar by Swenson, McDonald offers a distinctly American version of “Edelweiss.” At age 9, she sang the popular Rodgers and Hammerstein tune for her first theater audition, with accompaniment by her father.

Each of the 12 songs are infused with the excitement of discovery, along with passion and intelligence that convey basic emotional truths. One song, “Make Someone Happy” by Jule Styne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green from the musical “Do Re Mi,” has lyrics that appear to be tailor-made for McDonald: “Fame if you win it/ Comes and goes in a minute/ Where’s the real stuff in life to cling to?”

If you go

What: “Audra McDonald in Concert”

Where: Brigham Young University de Jong Concert Hall, Sept. 5 and 6; Weber State University Browning Center for the Performing Arts, Sept. 7

Tickets: byuarts.com, weberstatetickets.com

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