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Pop Reviews : Consciousness-Raising by Terry Cole-Whittaker

“I’m not a nightclub singer,” announced Terry Cole-Whittaker at the start of her Cafe Largo set on Wednesday. “What I am is a transformational cheerleader.” That said, the ever-smiling ex-televangelist launched into a new cabaret act in which she sang about divinity and hosted a Vegas-style consciousness-raising revue before a capacity crowd of doting devotees.

Billed as a preview of her planned television show, the club date also featured performances by a metaphysical comic, an astrologer and a transcendental meditation teacher.

Cole-Whittaker, dressed in a sequined white crepe gown, worked the room like a New Age Doris Day, hugging customers and belting out sincere but stilted versions of uplifting standards like “Look to the Rainbow” and “When You Wish Upon a Star” to piano accompaniment.

Her warm demeanor contrasted sharply with the materialistic guru image she developed during her divine prosperity days. And though her vocal talents are limited, the fans appeared to savor every note.

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Between songs, the former Mrs. California offered anecdotes about her spiritual progress and pampered followers with esoteric banter about Tarot cards, trance work and animal totems. “Everyone is a flower,” she said, passing out tiny buds to the patrons. “Keep cross-pollinating.”

Audience participation played a key role in the program. At one point, members of the audience volunteered affirmations into an open microphone, providing insights like “We do not die, we graduate.”

But as the two-hour show progressed, the obtuse music and humor began to drag. Still, nothing seemed to faze Cole-Whittaker. “Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself,” she advised before leading the crowd into her sing-along finale. “I’m used to it.”


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