Originally written for and published by Affinity Magazine.
On Thursday, Idina Menzel announced that she would be releasing a live album, idina: live, on October 5th via her instagram story, and subsequently posted about it on all her social media channels, also announcing the pre-order will begin Friday, September 7th, prior to joining Josh Groban on his Bridges tour.
Of course, as a fan of Menzel for close to 15 years now, I immediately pre-ordered the album when it became available, and with the pre-order, she released the studio version of her cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water", which she and her band recorded in a studio in New Orleans when she was on tour in the summer of 2017.
Having seen the tour twice, I knew that her rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Water was beautiful, but I did not expect it to be as absolutely breathtaking as it was.
Using more soulful instrumentals in comparison to the folksy instrumentals of the Simon and Garfunkel version, and clearly pulling musical and vocal influence from the late Aretha Franklin, who Menzel has cited as her "idol" and as the "greatest singer ever", Menzel shows off her vocal agility and finesse. She moves through vocal runs and navigates through the low end of her chest voice, into her belt range, and even a bit into her head voice, effortlessly and seamlessly, proving once again that she is one of the most skilled vocalists of her generation.
Including her vocal prowess, which is a quality generally missing from many music artists today, Menzel brings such power and emotion to every single note she sings. She sings every note with intention--it's not just about the vocal acrobatics that she can masterfully perform; it's about the way she can make her audience feel--which is what makes her one of the greatest artists alive today.
Idina Menzel represents everything an artist should want to be: someone who can leave you speechless regardless of the notes they are singing; someone who can bring tears to your eyes with certain phrasings.
I have never had a cliché rom-com movie moment with my partner until last night, when we sat on the roof and listened to Menzel's cover of Bridge Over Troubled Water and both started crying because of how that song was able to make us feel, and because of where Idina Menzel's vocals could take us both within ourselves and within the universe.
Music and artistry is not about perfection. It never has been. It shouldn't be about charts and perfectly hit notes. It should be about a deeper connection to oneself and the world around them, and every time Idina Menzel sings, she does that for her audience.
Music needs more of that.