Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens



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Photograph: Dulce Pinzon

Highline Ballroom; May 11, 2008

Like her Daptone Records labelmate Sharon Jones, Naomi Shelton is a local singer with a rich, weathered voice reflective of her years. But where Jones worships at the church of James Brown, Shelton, as her band’s name implies, bows to a more conventional deity (one with less-groovy hair). Yet Shelton is just as funky as the label’s star. In the ’90s, she cut soul records for Daptone precursor Desco under the name Naomi Davis. Now, using a surname once reserved for church performances, she makes her Daptone debut with “What Have You Done?,” a seven-inch single produced by label co-owner Bosco Mann, who lends the record his usual musty-cool vibe. Onstage, the singer exudes a similar air—regal and strangely sinister, as if her pious words mask wicked undercurrents, ideally suited for this Mother’s Day matinee.

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