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The Divas Divulge

Not one, but two of Chicago’s most powerful vocalists make rare appearances on their home turf in April.

Not one, but two of Chicago’s most powerful vocalists make rare appearances on their home turf in April. Broadway vet Felicia Fields reprises her Tony-nominated portrayal of Sofia in The Color Purple at the Cadillac Palace, while Grammy nominee Jennifer Larmore belts out signature arias with Music of the Baroque. Chicago snapped up tickets, then chatted with each chanteuse about the diva life.

diva Felicia Fields
diva Jennifer Larmore
Felicia P. Fields’ gutsy vocalism was a known Chicago commodity well before she became the toast of Broadway. (She originated the role of Sofia in the Oprah Winfrey– produced Color Purple.) When she’s not touring, Fields lives in Blue Island, where her favorite haunt is her mother’s house for Sunday dinner. One of international opera’s great stars, Atlanta-born Jennifer Larmore (pictured with her dog, Sophie) retains a personality as warm as Georgia sunshine. After seeing much of the world in their musical travels, she and her husband, the bass-baritone William Powers, have settled in Barrington.
First gig:
FIELDS: The Wiz at the Marriott Lincolnshire LARMORE: Sesto in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito in Nice, France
Favorite singers:
“Aretha Franklin. Patti LaBelle. Gladys Knight, who embraces you into her concert as if you were the only person in the world.” “I have always loved Tony Bennett, Vaughn Monroe, Ethel Merman-the list goes on.”
Secret weapon:
“Sugar-free Mentos. If you see me onstage there’s a Mento pushed down in my mouth somewhere.” Her voice. She has sung her way out of traffic tickets and past suspicious Argentinean customs officials.
Vocal maintenance:
“I’m a text messenger! I try to be quiet and come alive at 5 p.m.” “If I get a sore throat, saltwater gargle and Hall’s Mentho-lyptus lozenges.”
Karaoke standby:
“Shout! I did it at Taste of Chicago and was drenched in beer because people were jumping all over the place!” Crazy, by Patsy Cline. “A classic.”
Worst moment onstage:
A Dreamgirls performance she was too ill to finish. “I cried through the second act in my dressing room.” “I forgot the words to the ‘Habañera’ from Carmen. And I know that aria like my own name.”
Fantasy role:
“Mama Rose!” “Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier.”
Soundtrack at home:
 "Lots of gospel. I love blues. When I leave the theatre I’m not listening to theatre music.” “I love Motown, classic rock, music I can dance and exercise to. I almost never listen to opera.”
If she couldn’t sing, she’d . . .
“… [do] counseling. There are so many women with fear of being who they are.” “I’m writing a series of children’s books about my dog Sophie’s musical adventures!”
See her in action:
April 17th through July 8th at the Cadillac Palace, 151 W. Randolph St.; for tickets, 312-902-1400 or www.broadwayinchicago.com On April 15th at First United Church, 1630 Hinman Ave., Evanston, or April 16th at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph Dr.; for tickets, 312-551-1414 or www.baroque.org

Photography: Fields by Katrina Wittkamp, Larmore by Audra Melton

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