Last Thursday night I went over to 54 Below on West 54th between 7th and 8th, where Yanna Avis was performing her program of cabaret. Yanna, who is French, was married for a long time to Warren Avis, the rent-a-car tycoon. I can’t remember if we first met in Los Angeles or here in New York, but we have a lot of mutual good friends and have known each other a long time.
Yanna had been an actress before she married Warren, but she put that away to have time to spend with her husband. Warren died at the ripe old age of 92 eight years ago this last April. It was about that time that Yanna began to focus once again on her love of performing. I call her The Chantouze.
“Tomorrow night, chanteuse supreme, Yanna Avis returns to Manhattan’s 54 Below with her “Make Some Magic” set of sultry, naughty numbers. Go to www.54below.com for tix info. Yanna brings back the soigné vibe of all those legendary ladies who lounged against pianos in the halcyon days of New York cabaret.”
By David Patrick Columbia, New York Social Diary | May 13, 2013
“Yanna performs in the European tradition of the chanteuse. Neither Marlene Dietrich (although along those lines) nor Piaf, Yanna nevertheless brings their sentiments and emotional intimacy, with her style, to her songs. Her show is for You.
I’ve seen her perform several times. Her repertoire mingles American Songbook with European songs, some of which we know and all of which we get the gist of even if we don’t understand a word. (Sometimes it’s better if you have a good imagination.) Her theme — which is recurring — is unabashedly sentimental to the American ear, yet sophisticated and effecting. And kind.
This new show which she calls “In Love With Love,” runs for about an hour, and is her best yet. She takes us easily from Vernon Duke’s classic “Taking a Chance on Love” (introduced by Ethel Waters) into Bizet’s “Carmen” and on to Richard Adler and Jerry Ross’ “Whatever Lola Wants (Lola gets)…” backed a great group of musicians and musical director David Shenton at the piano. It features Cole Porter, Larry Hart, Georges Bizet, Adler and Ross, Vernon Duke, Charles Aznavour, Michel LeGrand, Mintinguett and more.
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.”