Talent of singer-songwriters showcased

“Who came here tonight with the sole purpose of making Justin Nozuka their personal Valentine?” joked folk singer-songwriter Robyn Dell’Unto before performing her first song of the night.

For many of Friday’s audience in the Maureen Forrester Recital Hall that was exactly their plan, but the “Singer/Songwriter Spotlight” was much more than a Justin Nozuka show. It was exactly as the title suggests – a showcase of vocal artists.

Organized by A-Team, the event welcomed guitar-based artists Peter Katz and Dell’Unto, as well as pianist Darrelle London as openers. Despite being individual musicians, all three shared the stage, listening while the other sung his or her own brand of the folk-acoustic style.

Toronto-based artist Katz captured the audience with his songs’ slow guitar rhythms that built towards a strong climax.

It was clear that he was able to entrance his listeners with echo effects and thumping heartbeats, making for a distinctly Canadian sound.

Next up to entertain the crowd was songstress Dell’Unto, offering a full-bodied voice: sweet and quirky yet distinguished. Her various themes of childhood jealousy and university residence crushes were glazed with a sultry charm.

The last of the triple-act, Darrelle London had a voice as clean and crisp as her piano playing.

With her innocently soft voice, London offered a sense of hope in her songs about relationships and life’s drama.

In between each performance, the artists offered commentary almost as entertaining as the music.

The three finished their set with a fitting rendition of Rihanna’s pop tune “Umbrella”; it seemed that the lyrics about dependence on others reminded the artists themselves of the intense bonds among struggling musicians.

After they left the stage, Justin Nozuka emerged to screams and enthusiasm, quickly sitting down to start singing.

Despite his success, Nozuka has not transformed from a singer-songwriter to an entertainment performer.

All smiles, but with difficulty articulating, he began explaining the “strange feeling of being in front of so many people.” Clearly not yet comfortable with the female attention he receives, Nozuka finds his place in his songs.

Continuing the night’s supportive theme, Nozuka introduced his band-mate Mark Pellizzer as “a real musician,” gushing about his piano and guitar talents.

Often missing the microphone, swaying back and forth and stomping his feet, Nozuka was fully instinctive.

Every one of his motions, whether replying “I love you” to an excited fan or interpreting the song “Ain’t No Sunshine,” were authentic.

His voice was heavy with intensity, but Nozuka was able to deliver seemingly effortless versions of his hits.

With the lack of excess present at most concerts, Friday night’s event left room only for voice and rhythm. Each song was performed organically from inside of the artist and carried through to the listeners.

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