For the last few weeks now there has been a commercial on TV that never fails to turn my head toward the tube. Visa, the credit card company, has a new campaign that features "Downtown", the old Petula Clark hit from the 60's. The video shows a winsome, though unremarkable actress/model being whisked through a rapid succession of cosmetic transformations into some kind of beauteous archetype of fashion and glamour, all because of the power of Visa credit, blah, blah, blah... Big deal.
What is completely arresting about this commercial is the great arrangement of this song and an outstanding singing performance by the stylish black woman who we see at the beginning and end of the spot. In less than 30 seconds, her soaring and soulful vocal on this commercial grabs you and doesn't let go until it's done.
So, after wondering for several days, I finally went to Google and typed in:
"visa commercial downtown"
Lo and behold, it seems I am far from being the only person impressed by this commercial. What pops up immediately in this search are several referential hits reflecting a real interest in this talented singer. It turns out her name is Niki Haris, she's got a website (of course!) and has successfully developed a genre-hopping, multi-faceted singing, acting, and dancing career. Among many other credits, she is a long-time backup singer for Madonna, has toured with legendary funk band Rufus (in the shoes of Chaka Khan), sung at the Newport Jazz Festival, choreographed major dance performances, written and performed music for television and movies, and released numerous gospel, dance, pop, and jazz albums. Pretty amazing. Most artists don't get to enjoy much success in so many disparate fields.
If you've gotten this far and don't have any idea what I'm talking about, YouTube has the video clip:
I am again amazed at how cool it is to have so much information so immediately available with today's technology. There are many things about computers and the internet that I don't like but, as recently as a couple of years ago, it would have been very hard to find ANY of this information, but now, it is right at our fingertips, complete with video. Amazing.