Performance Reviews

Harlem Song

A few actors grab what dignity they can, especially Queen Esther, whose incredible voice and presence could rise above this fracas even if it were called Ground Zero Song. ” - James Hannaham

Village Voice

Among the disc's highlights are "Here You Come With Love," a heartbreaking solo for Queen Esther (who delivers Wolfe's delightful dialogue with aplomb throughout the album), and B.J. Crosby's sassy rendition of the naughty "For Sale."” - Brooke Pierce

Theater Mania (Original Cast album review)

That sense of wonder is the centerpiece of Queen Esther's performance as Miss Nightingale, who, in the Jimmie Lunceford ditty "Well Alright Then," takes us on a walking tour of the Harlem Renaissance. Miss Nightingale is a Dolly Levi of the 'hood. Flourishing her big black hat and her fox stole, she proclaims, "After years of wandering down alleyways and back roads . . . Negroes of the world at long last have boulevards broad enough for their attitude."” - Hilton Als

The New Yorker

A more appealing narrator is Miss Nightingale (Queen Esther), who leads snazzy opening number “Well Alright Then,” in which the streets of Harlem at the dawn of the Harlem renaissance (“Boulevards broad enough for our attitudes,” she quips) are depicted as a fertile parade of personalities and social types. Working downtown in menial jobs, the residents of the neighborhood became grandees of sorts on the weekend, parading their finest duds in unofficial competitions on the streets, and in the churches and nightclubs.” - Charles Isherwood


Still, it is ungracious to complain when B.J. Crosby applies her wha-wha trumpet voice to the "Hungry Blues" of Langston Hughes and James P. Johnson. Or when Queen Esther plays Miss Nightingale, the neighborhood gossip, asking us to "double my double-entendres" while people in Paul Tazewell's generous abundance of costumes are strolling the brave new freedom land.” - Linda Winer


Revues like this are usually loaded with several show-stopping solos, but this one has only two to speak of: B.J. Crosby's delicious rendition of "For Sale" and Queen Esther's Depression Era lament "Here You Come With Love." ” - Brooke Pierce

Theater Mania

There is a spoken narration of sorts delivered by a character named Miss Nightingale (Queen Esther), a sly, gossipy matron always dressed to the nines. ” - Ben Brantley

The New York Times

JAmes "Blood" Ulmer, European Tour

In the middle of this "Blues Experience," as Ulmer calls his unusual and intensely sharp trio is Queen Esther, who made her mark four years ago with the avant garde guitarist Elliot Sharp on his album Mighty. With nonchalance, ease and strength, this cool, attractive singer turns the blues into a weapon loaded with aggression, aimed at African-American's oppressors. In unmistakable terms, she formulates her opinions on "Black Culture": I'm looking for a man who never has been in a white man's jail. Disassociated yet filled with soul, leaving behind both scorn and charm as she searches, the Queen sings from a blues throne never before occupied in quite this way by a guitarist. This kind of disturbing arrogance is unusual for Ulmer. This time, his refrains are soft, and because of this, the 58 year old Ulmer can restrain himself. He plays quietly sitting in a chair. Let me take you home, Queen Esther sings enticingly in the song of the same name, which was featured eight years ago on the Blues Preacher album. But, she adds sarcastically afterwards, her home is far away. In this way, her blues exude exclusivity as opposed to the Ulmer's solidarity. The old wall of protest is broken down, invitations to outsiders (whites) are no longer valid, and the landscape has changed: What was brought to the fore on this evening of amazing music leaves one with goose pimples.” - Anja Barckhausen

Nuremburg Nachrichten

Jazzmobile Vocal Competition

The last contestant was Queen Esther, whose phrasing and involvement with the lyric made her the standout. ”

All About Jazz

Queen Esther: Unemployed Superstar

'Queen Esther: Unemployed Superstar' is the tale of her growing up, trying on and discarding pop-culture images from revolutionary black militant to tortured jazz singer and eventually deciding to be herself. Her story is strikingly similar to the one related by Kristen Childs in her recent Off Broadway show, ''The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin.'' Through it all Queen Esther exudes an impish charm that recalls the sorely missed comedian and performance artist Danitra Vance. ” - Steven Holden

The New York Times

Healing Arts initiative

This wasn't the overly produced, swelling, ramped-up, modern gospel that accompanies the ubiquitous Sunday morning, religious radio shows. It was a breathtaking recreation of raw-to-the-bone, plaintive and excruciatingly heartfelt, unadorned, old-time, rural gospel music; the spiritual equivalent of Robert Johnson's worldly, piercing, early delta blues. I personally felt transported to some unassuming, rustic, backwoods, Black American church of the 1930's. Queen Esther's relation to this music through her background, (born and raised in South Carolina), and innate, exquisite sensibility, was evident, as she spoke between songs, probing the audience's knowledge of the music, while filling in a bit of the not-widely-known history of this vital and uniquely American art form. This was a beautiful, artistic and daring performance.”

Healing Arts Initiative (formerly Hospital Audiences, Inc.)

American Folk Art Museum

As you would expect at a museum whose equally amazing exhibits document folk art and outsider art spanning the past few centuries, there’s plenty of folk music here. But even the oldtime sounds extend well beyond the world of fingerpicked front-porch acoustic guitar tunes. The best traditional show here this year was by singer Vienna Carroll, a historian whose insights into a set of rousing blues, gospel and string band songs reflected the triumphs of African-Americans over 19th century slaveowner terrorism and racism rather than the more common narrative of endless suffering. Queen Esther, a Folk Art Museum regular, reaffirmed that same fearlessly subversive esthetic at a couple of shows in February and July, featuring both Eastern Seaboard blues and soul-tinged originals.” - delarue

New York Music Daily