There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
SATURDAY & SUNDAY
Nebraska-born Julie Wilson’s extraordinary beauty launched her career. At 18, she left Omaha University to tour as a showgirl in a musical revue and soon found herself in the chorus line at Manhattan’s glitzy Copacabana. Blessed with brains and talent to match her looks, she wasn’t content just being part of the decor. She honed her singing skills and, in the mid-’40s, snagged a slot as vocalist with Johnny Long’s Orchestra. Within a few years, she became a top solo attraction as a fixture at the posh Maisonette in New York’s St. Regis Hotel, where she performed seductive songs attired in her signature costume—a form-fitting sequined gown, a feather boa, and a fresh gardenia in her hair. From clubs, she progressed to stage musicals (Kiss Me Kate, Company) and movies (The Strange One, This Could Be the Night). Then, at the peak of her career, she retired to Omaha to care for her aging parents and raise her two sons. In 1984, she returned to performing in nightclubs, interpreting lyrics with a new-found dramatic intensity and hard-earned wisdom. Today she has succeeded the legendary Mabel Mercer as the role model for aspiring cabaret singers. Still a knockout in her 70s, Wilson arrives at Blues Alley with her sequins, boa, gardenia, and a trunk full of classic songs, including selections from her new CD, Julie Wilson Sings the Gershwin Songbook, featuring her piano accompanist and occasional vocal partner William Roy. You’ve heard the cabaret clones; experience the Real Thing at 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday, July 24, and Sunday, July 25, at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Rear. $24. (202) 337-4141. (Joel E. Siegel)