FORT WORTH -- During her concert Tuesday night with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Wynonna performed in front of a backdrop that looked like a classic movie-theater marquee with the words "Rockin' Christmas" on it. But there was more to her show than Christmas -- or than rockin', for that matter.
To be sure, there was Christmas. Wynonna entered with a sassy version of Winter Wonderland, followed by the hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel, which was underscored with some almost-brooding symphony backing. She continued to mix the sacred and the secular, performing reverent takes on O Holy Night and Ave Maria, and a wistful I'll Be Home for Christmas among others.
But this is an artist who likes to jump around among many genres, and she also threw in some straight-up blues (Women Be Wise, which featured a stellar solo by principal clarinet Ana Victoria Luperi), some old-school soul (a gritty take on Bill Withers' Ain't No Sunshine) and some Tammy Wynette-style country (Till I Get it Right) as well some of her own hits .
Wynonna bantered easily with the crowd, joked around with conductor Andrés Franco, made a couple of wisecracks about her famous mother and half sister (Naomi and Ashley, respectively), and got emotional when introducing her husband, drummer Cactus Moser, who played during the whole show despite having lost a leg in a motorcycle wreck four months ago (Wynonna noted that their first date was at Bass Hall a few years ago).
It was a wide-ranging, confident show that showed off a strong, soulful voice from a singer with enough power to belt things out and enough restraint not to overdo it. She may call symphony shows "blind dates" because she often meets the players on the day of the show, but the chemistry was clearly there.
The symphony opened the show with a half-hour of country and Christmas music, the highlight of which was hearing the string section wail away on a version of Orange Blossom Special that included snippets of The Eyes of Texas and a couple of other songs.
Robert Philpot, 817-390-7872