Claiborne & Company at Durty Nelly's, Friday, June 28

By Damani Harrison

My first encounter with Richelle Claiborne was at the Live Arts production of The Wiz earlier this year in which Richelle played the role of the Scarecrow. Her mighty natural hair, so elegantly napped up in a wholesome 'fro, added miles to the make-up job. She sang with such soul and passion that it was hard not to be completely entranced by her performance.

Since then I have run into her on multiple occasions. She has sat in with Man Mountain Jr. at Orbit on Mondays for a few inspiring jam sessions. Even as a guest at someone else's show, she captivated the audience, taking control of the stage and the moment for the short time she had.

In my opinion, there are two types of artists: those who have "it" and those who don't. Granted, there are numerous subcategories under these two headings, but for the sake of simplicity in this column I choose to remain general.

The highly coveted "it" is quite elusive. It cannot be bought, taught, or learned. It can, on the other hand, be shared, abused, and lost.

Performers who have "it" can communicate with an audience merely by standing on stage. Their aura demands attention, and their energy demands respect. When I think of "it," I think of Richelle Claiborne.

Not only is she attractive, but she is confident and elegant, too. But even with all that going for her, she remains humble and laid back in a quirky artsy thespian slash triple threat kinda way (did I mention her modeling portfolio?). That is why I spent my Friday night at Dürty Nelly's.

I couldn't pass up the personal invite she gave me to come see her newly formed band Claiborne & Co.