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Sista Otis

September 05, 2009
8:00 PM


One to Watch: Sista Otis
by Carolyn Heneghan

A punchy instrumental breakdown bounces off the dimly lit walls of Cafe Negril this Friday evening. Otis looks up from the light brown Guild electric acoustic guitar held snugly to her chest by a bright red strap and flashes a wide, gracious smile at the crowd. She’s wearing her favorite color scheme, black and red: black Adidas jacket, black dress over blue jeans, black socks, and Adidas sneakers. Her most striking feature is her hair-to-the-waist dreadlock pigtails, black with a few locks dyed red, complementing the red strap that peeks from her evening’s ensemble.

Otis’ simple but catchy melodies are keeping the crowd either dancing on their feet or grooving in their barstools. More curious bystanders, once peering in the large glass window from the bustle of Frenchmen sidewalks, now fill in haphazardly to get a listen. Her solo in “Take All of Me” has drawn these people in from the cold tonight, as her voice laces thick, sultry purrs with sweet, airy coos and rhythmic bouts of scatting… a dexterous vocal repertoire that is inviting to passers-by.

“I’d like to propose a toast,” Otis says to her audience, raising her gin and tonic with lime. “A toast that has been in my family and passed down for generations… all my Norwegian, Polish, Scot-Irish, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Asian, African, Native American, South American, North American, Eskimo, gypsy, Jewish ancestors always said… ‘Let the good times roll, motherf*ers!’”

“She has enough girl power to fuel a fire and enough soul to make James Brown proud.” –Rachel May, Detroit Free Press

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