Yanna Avis has been called a cross between Edith Piaf and Marlene Dietrich and that is certainly a flattering comparison. On the contemporary scene she might remind one of “Uma” or “Ute,” as in Thurman or Lemper, given the equally alluring and mysterious quality they share with the international chanteuse. On stage at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency for the second time this fall, in a magnificent skintight black pants suit with a soft white, flouncy collar and cuffs, she definitely enhanced the beauty and elegance of the room
Sultry and sexy, singing a multi-lingual repertoire that has become her forte, she had the strong support of some very fine sidemen: on accordion Patrick Farrell, bass David Finck and violin/viola Eddie Malave. Her Musical Director, David Shenton, and director, Daniel Isengart, musically and artistically shaped a program that enabled her to work her unique and appealing magic to the delight of her savvy, sophisticated audience.
To be sure, very few “chantoosies” in fishnet stockings covering legs that go on forever can stretch out and caress the top of a Steinway and make it look so natural and effortless. One can sense that Ms. Avis is as comfortable there as she is at a café in Paris or dining at the Ritz! All the songs on her song list, whether in French, Italian, Spanish or German, serve to heighten the “mystique!”
Negotiating off the stage and in and around tightly cramped chairs, however, proved to be a challenge that she might not have anticipated. On the other hand, her foray into the audience provided an opportunity to get a sense of who the real Yanna Avis truly is. Seeing her vulnerable made her a bit less mysterious and that much more likeable.
By David Patrick Columbia, New York Social Diary | September 30, 2009
“Meanwhile, yesterday in New York. At eight o’clock I went down to Feinstein’s at the Regency to hear my friend Yanna Avis in her debut in that room. Yanna is a chanteuse, “an exotic international chanteuse,” as she’s been described elsewhere.
She’s Parisienne by birth. A number of years ago she married the Rent-a-Car tycoon and industrialist Warren Avis. They cut a wide swath in the international high life here, in Europe and Acapulco where Warren had been a long time resident. Yanna put aside her career in the early part of her marriage. Although encouraged by Warren, she eventually began to pursue and develop it.
I’d seen her perform several times in cabaret, but last night was the first time I’d seen a complete finished act with a set of songs and a theme. And it was like the words Mr. Porter had written, “the bubbles in a glass of champagne ….” A very good time.
La chantouze is how she sometimes signs her notes to me. It also is the theme. The songs are a mixture of some familiar melodies with French lyrics, some familiar old American tunes – not so much the Broadway standards — and a very intimately delivered monologue of the chantouze.
Yanna’s delivery is almost tongue in cheek. She moves. She gets up on the piano, she reclines; she’s back on her to feet and looking right at that spot, that audience of one whom she’s addressing and singing too (when she’s not singing to the rest of us). Her sense of humor is playfully sultry and sometimes self-parodying. Yanna in life has a very sunny disposish. She is very much the femme fatale, but she is also serious, the actress.
People who know her love her for this. Her show was like that. It’s authentic, and last night there were a lot of her friends in the opening audience. They loved her for it.”