Comedienne and chanteuse is a diva who ages like vintage wine

Lady Rizo at Sheffield Greystones Monday, July 29.
Lady Rizo at Sheffield Greystones Monday, July 29.
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Outrageous and hilarious New York ‘caburlesque’ star Lady Rizo is dropping in to Sheffield as part of a national tour.

The Grammy Award-winning diva, a persona created by singer and comedienne Amelia Zirin-Brown, is coming to The Greystones pub in Sheffield on Monday (July 29).

Described as “a fascinating mix of bawdy humour and polished hyper-femininity”, Lady Rizo came up with the term caburlesque, a mixture of cabaret and burlesque, to describe her show. She combines her own music and highly original versions of hit songs with a biting wit and is not afraid to poke fun at her audience.

Lady Rizo answered some questions ahead of her city appearance.

For people who aren’t familiar with your show, how would you describe it? What kind of experience do you try and give your audience?

My show is like selling a fine vintage wine in a new bottle.

It’s a mix of classic material and new songs – some of which I’ve written.

I am a comedienne and chanteuse equally. I encourage my audience to have a decadently good time and soak in the glamour of a diva all the while laughing at, with, or near me.

Think Mae West with soulful voice and a modern twist relevant to the world. The experience will change their brain chemistry. This laughter, music and glitter combo is the new street drug and its legal and has no side-effects.

Cabaret, vaudeville and burlesque have made a comeback in recent years. Why do you think audiences are enjoying this kind of vintage entertainment so much?

Nostalgia surfaces strongly when people are going through a rough time. This media and tech-saturated life is overwhelming. Everyone feels so busy – because we are. Very few young or middle-aged people are leading simple lives. Looking through a telescope back in time it’s easy to focus/glorify the positive. Obviously there is more to these expressions than simple nostalgia. There is glamour, beauty, and the expression of the divine feminine. It’s nice to present these art forms from the perspective of a time with more advanced civil rights.

Who is Lady Rizo? Can you describe her for us?

An audacious songstress in tight gowns and fierce lashes. A ball buster with a heart of gold. The diva you’ve always wanted to worship but never found until now.

What is it about cabaret/caburlesque that appeals to you?

The freedom to creatively interpret material and write my own in a format that I understand very well now. I can connect with the audience so viscerally when there is no fourth wall.

I have the skills to lead an audience the way a great emcee can and when a group of people are willing to be led into a sensual expression of art there is no better high.

Can we expect the same sort of show that you put on in Joe’s Pub in New York (I’ve seen some YouTube clips)?

You can expect it to be better. But it will be different because unfortunately I don’t have the capability of travelling up north with a full band. It will be unlike any usual show – more intimate because it will be just with Yair Evnine and I.

Yair plays the guitar, bass and mandolin – also the cello but we couldn’t bring one. If anyone in Sheffield wants to bring a cello to the show, that would be grand.

From what I’ve seen, you’re very direct with the audience. Does that always go down well or have you had bad reactions before?

Only with very drunk people or those that are so insecure that they feel like they have to not play by the rules that I clearly express. It usually goes well.

Which artists whose music you perform are your favourites?

I love every song I perform or I won’t perform it but I love listening to Nina Simone, Gladys Knight and Edith Piaf.

Who do the audience love best?

They love it when I take a song that’s dirty or very dissonant with my image and reimagine it. But they also love my originals and when I fully embody a standard or diva hit.

Have you had any feedback from the artists whose songs you perform?

Britney loved my Toxic. Before Nick Ashford passed away he and his lovely wife Valerie Simpson came into the supper club that I sing at, The Darby, and were very complimentary after I sang a couple of their songs.

Do you see yourself as an artistic influence on Lady Gaga?

I was definitely performing in downtown circles that overlapped with her when she was at New York University but I have no idea. We haven’t ever had the chance to have tea together. Even though we have disparate styles we could do a killer duet, I’m sure.

Have you been to Sheffield before? Any other connections to the city (well, you never know!)?

Never! I have no idea what to expect. Surprise me.

Box office: wegottickets.com.

To learn more about Lady Rizo, and see her live videos, go to www.ladyrizo.com.