By Hans Ebert


She’s not a “jazz” singer. She’s an interpreter of songs. And right now, this artist originally from Toronto really is the most creative singer in Hong Kong when it comes to interpreting a song. Even something as hackneyed as “Leaving On A Jet Plane.”

She even breathes some new life into what I personally think to be the vastly overrated “Shallow”.

There might be better singers in town, especially those performing the hotel lounge “circuit” in this city, but none have the interpretative skills of Gigi aka Genevieve Marentette, back in town and performing at the Lobster Bar of the Island Shangrila.

Hotel lounges are hardly one frequents to hear good ‘live’ music, but for some reason, I decided to drop by and say Hello to Gigi earlier this week.

I hadn’t seen her in around five years and though sometimes we both perhaps wonder whether we’re friend or foe, we’re friends.

We’ve had our own battles to fight and the need to swim against the tide of giving into less than perfect relationships, but we freed ourselves from that toxicity and are stronger for it.

Perhaps it’s all this that makes Gigi able to turn the cheesiest song into something more than fondue shtick?

So while sipping the best mojito in town along with tasting a quite extraordinarily good snack dish of Fried Korean Chicken and listening to some stranger tell me he had dinner the night before with a very good friend who happened to be at the races that night and then mention something or another about being involved in the production of “A Star Is Born”, I listened to Gigi sing. Really listened.

Listening, it was abundantly clear that she really needs a different backing crew from those she has to work with right now and probably a different venue.

What you’re hearing is someone who deserves better. Deserves to be working with far better musicians who can take the creativity she puts into a song to another level.

There were times where I wished I could hear her sing accapella. The same old tears against a new background. She really needs to go into a studio with someone with the A&R skills to surround her material with players like Nathan East, Steve Gadd and Steve Lukather or maybe Diplo or maybe a gospel choir or just a intoxicating mélange of ambient sounds that almost work against her vocals.

Having seen what Gigi was trying to do another lifetime ago when performing at the Blue Bar of the Four Seasons- get well away from being labelled a hotel lounge singer- she’s moved on, but needs to cut that cord of performing to audiences who don’t get it. Nor get her.

She’s actually a multimedia artist. I’m not sure even she realises this.

As a performance artist, she needs new challenges. Singing at the Lobster Bar pays the rent. I doubt that it builds a structure to house the talent inside of her. It’s complex but simple.

It’s more than “vibing” over beats. That’s the past. It’s now about moving forward. Creating something that no one has heard before. It’s there inside her. She just needs to find a way to work with those who share a similar vision and who can hear what’s going on inside. It will happen. And happen soon. It must.

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