Kitoto has a lot of love and respect for her father. In fact, her exact words about why she chose to be a part of the event were: “Because it would honor my dad, first and foremost. That was what I was thinking…he toured with [The Beatles] in ’66 and he was friends with them, and so I would have loved for him to be a part of this. I know he would have absolutely loved it. He would have been so honored and so happy to…reunite with so many different people that he’s passed through in his career, and since he’s not here to do that…I don’t think there’s any other way, any better way that I can honor my dad than to perform his song.” Even through the phone, I could feel how sincere Kitoto was about doing what she could to honor her father and to continue his legacy, to bring his music to as many people as she could.
According to Kitoto, her father gave her much throughout her life: a role model, attention, affection, humor, and love. He also passed on to her his musical talent. Kitoto may have looked nervous as she took the stage, but once the music started, she owned the stage. The three chatty women next to me remarked that she looked terrified as she took hold of the mic (“Poor thing looks like she’s shaking!”), but after she was done, they changed their tune (“Damn! That’s how you do it!”). What might have helped provide confidence to Kitoto was the audience’s reaction once they realized what song she was singing. As I looked around the theater, I could see people swaying in their seats, mouthing the words as Kitoto hit her stride. Or perhaps it was the realization that her father’s music was once again stirring a crowd to happiness. For that night, during that song, Bobby Hebb was again doing what he did best: reminding us all that when life isn’t what we think it should be, we can still make things “sunny.”
(All photos, credit: Jennifer Dodge)