The first time I saw Christine Rosholt, she wasn’t on stage. I didn’t even know who she was, yet I knew she was special. It was a drizzly afternoon at the Hot Summer Jazz Festival, some years ago. My wife and I were sitting in the lower portion of the Orchestra Hall Plaza when a couple went strolling by. She was wearing a white dress with red polka dots, and carried a red umbrella – a bright flower, if you will, radiating light where there had been none. Nothing about that impression changed when later I met her, and found out she was a singer of the Great American Songbook.
I had her on my show when her second album, Lipstick, came out. It was recorded live at The Dakota, and revealed Christine’s playful nature to any who hadn’t seen her perform. She loved interacting with the audience and with her fellow musicians.
Between sets Christine would work a room, greeting fans and friends with genuine enthusiasm. Whether performing at small clubs, libraries, theaters, or fundraisers, Christine was especially good at remembering the names of everyone she met. Her enthusiasm and friendliness wasn’t limited to her performances, as I discovered when running into her at other shows.
I saw Christine performing twice in the last two months. The December 1 CD release for PAZZ, her latest, was great fun, as she shared the stage with many of the musicians that helped her on the album. As a pop/jazz album (hence the name) it’s a change of pace, but highly successful. Her joy in recording the songs is palpable on record, as it was that night at The Dakota.
I also saw her on November 1, when she was singing with Beasley’s Big Band at O’Gara’s in Saint Paul. Despite the relatively small room and an out of tune piano, Christine was having a ball. At one point during an uptempo version of “Somebody Loves Me,” the piano player quoted “A Train.” Christine turned, and without dropping a beat, quipped, “You wanna go uptown?”
That moment was pure Christine – warm, witty, radiating light, and in her element. She will be missed.