Vocalist Michelle Berting-Brett Delights Audience with Songs & Stories of the Carpenters
Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
Their songs are timeless and transcend generations. And on Saturday night 1500 plus fans of the Carpenters’ music filled the North Charleston Performing Arts Center as Michelle Berting-Brett brought her widely acclaimed show “We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Remembered‘ to the low country for the first time.
Backed by the North Charleston Pops Berting-Brett along with her seven-piece band thrilled concert goers for over 90 minutes, revisiting 1970’s Top 40 radio classics made famous by sister and brother act, Karen and Richard Carpenter. While Berting-Brett has been singing for decades, she’s focused her vocal stylings on the Carpenters vast array of songs for the past 10 years, often playing to sold out crowds.
Originally scheduled for 2020, the show like many live performances was postponed due to COVID. Saturday night was a much-anticipated show for fans of the Carpenters but for Berting-Brett as well, as it was the first time ‘We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Remembered’ was complemented by an orchestra. Under the direction of Nick Palmer, the North Charleston Pops only added the richness the Carpenters music deserves.
After Palmer and his ensemble performed a nearly ten-minute montage of the Carpenters greatest hits, Berting-Brett took the stage glittering in red. She wasted no time as she and her background singers appropriately opened the two-hour show with ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’, which became Karen and Richard’s signature song, and perhaps the most requested wedding song of the 70’s decade.
As she was playing to mostly baby boomers who grew up with the Carpenters, Berting-Brett provided interesting and clever back stories to ensuing numbers. Not only did Berting-Brett provide her own history of falling in love as a young girl with Karen while growing up in Saskatchewan Canada, but she also provided a nice timeline of the Carpenters before they made it famous, sharing moments that are both uplifting and sad.
Berting-Brett and company led concert goers down memory lane, adding the holiday classic ‘Merry Christmas Darling’ early on. As a pleasant surprise she even threw in a short medley of hits made famour by Dionne Warwick including ‘Walk on By’ and ‘Do You Know the Way to San Jose’, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, a songwriting team that helped propel the Carpenters to stardom.
With a treasure trove of memorable hits, Berting-Brett did not disappoint, touching on the duos Top 10’s including ‘Say Goodbye to Love’, ‘Superstar’, and ‘Only Yesterday’. It was only fitting Berting-Brett got the audience to pipe in on the chorus of ‘Sing’. The back story to ‘Top of the World’ was particularly amusing, since Richard penned it while soaring high in a Lear jet.
The second half of the show was equally as compelling with the North Charleston Pops setting the tone with ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ by Simon & Garfunkel and ‘But Beautiful’ a jazz standard composed by Jimmy Van Heusen. Bedecked in shimmering silver Berting-Brett kept the cavalcade of hit songs coming, revisiting songs Karen sang on several of their TV specials.
Touching moments came when Berting-Brett talked how Richard beat his own addictions which was a nice lead into ‘Solitaire’. She once again got the audience to provide backup melodies with ‘Every sha-la-la, it’s ‘Yesterday Once More’. The show ended even more appropriately with ‘Close to You’, the Carpenters very first hit that spent four weeks at the top of the charts in the summer of 1970 and was written by Bacharach and David.
‘We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Remembered’ is an epic Carpenters experience. Berting-Brett’s voice is so spot on you could close your eyes and imagine Karen is singing. It’s no small surprise this show has gained wide acclaim and performs to large crowds from coast to coast.
Michelle long with her husband and producer Mark Brett are keeping some to the most cherished soft rock songs of the 70’s era alive. Low country fans can only hope they bring their show back to Charleston, whether they are backed by the North Charleston Pops or not. Spending an intimate evening with ‘We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Remembered is nothing short of solid gold!
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