A buzz was brewing in Boston. In the early 90's, word spread through Boston's Folk Music circles about an ex-jazz singer who was giving great performances at open mics in and around Boston. Word spread about Vance Gilbert, the Philadelphia-born singer-songwriter. Shawn Colvin invited Vance to be a special guest on her "Fat Gut" concert tour.
In a review of one of the shows on the tour the Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrote: "With the voice of an angel, the wit of a devil, and the guitar playing of a god, it was enough to earn him that rarity: an encore for an opener".
Vance has released four albums, Edgewise (1994), Fugitives (1995), Shaking Off Gravity (1998), and Vance Gilbert: Somerville Live (2000).
Vance has created a solid career for himself in the Folk music world. He is constantly touring the country, playing at various locations across the country from coffeehouses to concert halls, from house concerts to giant festivals. Vance captured the 1997 Kerrville Music Awards' Vocalist of the Year award.
I have had the great fortune of having seen Vance Gilbert many times in concert, at The Pines Ampitheatre in Northampton, to a small coffeehouse concert series in Rochester, NY, to the main stage of the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.
His stage presence is amazing. He can reach out to his audience and make them laugh with his incredible sense of humor, or make them think with his sharp wit. He is still the only man I've ever seen make a sign language interpreter break down laughing while on stage interpreting. Being African-American, he often makes poignant points to try to smooth out race relations.
I recall him saying at a concert "The only difference between you (the predominantly white crowd) and me (an African-American man) is that I can hide my waistline with a guitar when I work."