Soul Sisters

Rihanna and Joan Armatrading perform here this week to music fans both young and old.

May 28, 2010 17:18
2 minute read.
Singers Rihanna and Joan Armatrading.

rihanna and joan armatrading 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Despite Elvis Costello’s cancellation of his two shows here next month, there’s still an amazing amount of international talent rolling through the country almost every week. Take next week, for example, which will begin with red hot R&B teen idol Rihanna performing at Bloomfield Stadium for an exclusive group of young Israelis who signed up for the Orange/Rockcorps volunteer program doing community work in exchange for a ticket to the show.

Zoom to the end of the week, and there’s an alternative, no less scintillating, for the oldtimers – Joan Armatrading will be playing two shows on Friday and Saturday nights at the Shoni Amphitheater in Binyamina and at Heichal Hatarbut in Tel Aviv, respectively.

The two artists couldn’t be at more different points in their career, and it’s unlikely that there’ll be anyone attending both shows. But upon closer inspection, the similarities between Rihanna and Armatrading outweigh their differences.

Rihanna’s 2007 album Good Girl Gone Bad featured five top 10 singles in America including, “Umbrella,” “Disturbia” and “Don’t Stop the Music.” Her latest album, Rated R, already has three top 10 singles, giving her more top 10 hits than any other female artist of the past 10 years.

Besides her music, the 22-year-old native of Barbados was in the spotlight last year as a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her then-boyfriend, singer Chris Brown. Extricated from that situation, she’s emerged even more popular, collaborating with Jay-Z and West on the song “Run This Town,” which ended up winning a Grammy Award for Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Initially considered a teen-oriented singer, Rihanna was cited by Rolling Stone magazine as making “one of the best pop albums of the year” with Rated R.

The 59-year-old Armatrading, a native of Saint Kitts in the West Indies, is also no stranger to Grammys. Since releasing her stunning 1975 debut album Back to the Night, which introduced her as a major talent, she’s been nominated for three Grammys. Over the next few years and equally riveting albums like 1977’s Show Some Emotion and 1978’s To the Limit she became a singer/songwriter fixture, appealing to acoustic pop and jazz enthusiasts, as well as rock new wavers. The move toward a more commercial, harder rock sound emerged in 1980 with Me Myself I, and flourished with the next year’s Walk under Ladders, which spawned her biggest hit single “Drop the Pilot.”

The ensuing years have seen sporadic success for Armatrading, who by 2003 was without a recording contract and releasing albums on her own, including this year’s well-received This Charming Life.

Whether a 22-year-old R&B sensation at the top of the bubble or a 59-year-old career veteran still making heartfelt, meaningful music, this week’s book end lineup of Rihanna and Joan Armatrading is a great way to demonstrate the musical diversity available to local fans.

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