Reader request: Inspirational female anthems, anyone?

Written By Sun-Times Wire Posted: 01/28/2008, 11:01am

Reader Elizabeth Allen-Smith recently sent the following email, looking for some help in choosing songs for a gig she’s about to play.

Jim: I’ve listened to you and read your work for years and thought that if there was anyone who could help me it would have to be you – otherwise I may make some really bad choices!

Here’s my problem: I am new to Freeport (one year as a new resident and small business – “Dragon Popcorn”) and my business has been tapped repeatedly for not-for-profit events, etc.. (I am trying to make a good impression). One group (Relay For Life) is headed by a woman who heard me sing and asked me to perform “gratis” during their all night event. I have a strong voice and sing everything from country to heavy metal – I can do Grace Slick “with authority” as one person has told me. Please forgive me if this sounds like bragging – I just want you to understand my abilitiy so that you can offer advice if at all possible. I also love to cover Annie Lennox and Bonnie Raitt as well as Reba and K. D. Lang.

So – they want me to sing three to four songs. I have decided to do Etta James’, “At Last” because that is my signature song and always brings a wonderful response, but for my other choices I wanted to do something appropriate for the setting – the fight against cancer. I am interested in doing something inspirational but I really don’t want to do religious music. I would like to do something that would get the crowd involved but I can only think of “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing” (are you cringing?) or “From A Distance”. I’d like to do a rock anthem but I can’t think of anything!!! Additionally, country music out here would work just as well.

Please, please, please, can you help me? I’d gladly try bribery – I have over 50 types of gourmet popcorn…?! Any consideration would be HUGELY appreciated! — Liz

Liz: First off, no bribery necessary!

Secondly, when you say strong female voice and inspirational, a couple of tunes pop into my head instantly: “Respect” and “Think” by Aretha Franklin, “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, and, probably less appropriate for you on this occasion, “O Bondage, Up Yours!” by X-Ray Spex. Them’s my choices, any way! But I’ll throw it out on my blog, and let’s see what else anybody else comes up with.