It came to pass that the Clermont megachurch was transformed into a Performing Arts Center. And heaven sent a Rock and Roll angel to Clermont on Saturday night to complete the transformation.
Her name is Darlene Love. She belongs to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was the perfect act for the opening of the new Clermont Performing Arts Center, formerly known as the Celebration of Praise megachurch.
Watch a clip of Darlene’s performance here:
Love, 74, remains a mega-talent. Near the end of her remarkable two-hour concert, she lifted the spirits of the nearly 1,000 people in the crowd and did just about everything but heal the sick and raise the dead.
How else to explain watching and listening to a certified musical legend – one of the main bricks in Phil Spector’s wall of sound—as she practically blew the roof off the building with a wildly riveting and rocking version of “River Deep — Mountain High.”
But that wasn’t all.
“My father was a minister and I come from a religious family,” Love said, standing in front of her tight, nine-piece band and three backup singers. “Right now, I feel we are standing in a church and I want to sing praise.”
Love turned into a spirit-filled gospel queen, sending a hot and blistering vocal to the heavens on “Jesus Is the Rock That Keeps Me Rolling.”
Now, that song’s a long way from 1962 when Love was an anonymous lead singer for Phil Spector’s Crystals and had a No. 1 hit with “He’s a Rebel.” Love smiled on stage, midway through her concert, when she told the audience, “this one is for all you rebels,” and sang the all-time rock and roll classic.
Villager Lydia Leduc was just a kid back when that song was hot but she turned up Saturday in Clermont and took a trip back in time.
“I had a crush on a guy and he really was a rebel,” Leduc said. “I had to buy that record because everytime I heard it, I thought of that guy.”
Love had so many hits and brought back so many memories.
She sang backup on the orginal “Da Do Ron Ron” and hit all the right notes on stage as the lead. Among her other standards she sang with robust energy: “He’s Sure the Boy I Love,” “Today I Met the Boy I’m Going to Marry” and “Wait Till My Bobby Gets Home.”
Love, though, refuses to live in the past. She’s not about to rust into a moldie golden oldie. Love looks far younger than 74. On stage she wore a black tank top; a leopard-print short skirt to go with a cascading open front beige vest. Her curly blonde hairstyle added to the youthful personality.
And so did much of her music.
She just released a new CD called, “Introducing Darlene Love.” It’s her first pop release since 1988 and was produced by Steven Van Zandt, of Bruce Springsteen’s band.
Among the songwriters who contributed include Van Zandt, Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Joan Jett and Jimmy Webb.
A lot of the music was influenced by Spector’s production work with Love. As she rides the comeback trail, he’s in jail after being convicted for second degree murder.
One of the hardest rocking songs on the new CD is “Painkiller” and Love seemed right at home shaking up the stage. She added zest to Linda Perry’s “Love Kept Us Foolin’ Around” and brought a sense of faith to Jimmy Webb’s symphonic-hymn, “Who Under Heaven.”
Love’s vocals hit the heart of Mary Geraghty, who attended the concert with her sister, Villager Marguerite Desbrow.
“I had to see Darlene Love; seeing her is on my bucket list,” Geraghty said. “She was always a backup singer and never got the credit she deserved. Now, she’s finally getting the recognition. It goes above and beyond rock and roll. Darlene Love’s music has been part of my life and it will always be that way. She’s a very special singer.”
Love’s performance added to a special night for the Clermont Performing Arts Center. There was lavish food, drink and parties outside and inside of the building.
Jeanie Linders is the manager of the facility and spearheaded the transformation.
“I said we would make this work, and we made it work,” she said before Love took the stage and made the transformation complete.