Charmed by Christabel at Knoxville Museum of Art’s Alive After Five


It’s not like we get to hear the sultry Southern sounds of Christabel and the Jons much any more.  We’re lucky to hear them at all now.  Lead singer Christa DeCicco has moved from East Tennessee to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, making any comeback to Knoxville noteworthy.  She is, after all, loved by her followers not just for her vocals that can be compared to those of Norah Jones and Billie Holiday but also for the instrumentalists that accompany her and make their sound their own.


So, it was with great pleasure that we joined her fans at KMA’s Alive After Five on May 17 to sit back and take in that swingy, country, jazzy, one-of-a-kind music that only Christabel can do.

As crowds moved into the event, at least a third of the folks left their tables to dance in the cleared-out space just to Christabel’s right.  It was an older crowd for the most part, people familiar with the soft, measurable music that begs for participation — whether it’s toe-tapping or full-on swing.


Some even moved to the second floor landing where you could hear the music but move more freely (and almost privately) to Christabel’s casual rhythms.


The music itself was the scene-stealer, but the Alive After Five crew had arranged for side events.  Suki Seay was on hand to take your picture and print it for you on site. Upstairs three artists volunteered their time and talents to draw portraits of willing subjects — all for free.  So, how could I pass this up?

From top:  Jameson, Carrie Ellen and Debbie Barnes

From top: Jameson, Carrie Ellen and Debbie Barnes

Portrait of the blogger by Debbie Barnes

Portrait of the blogger by Debbie Barne

You could dine at your table on Asian-inspired entrees from NORI . . .


or just nibble on free popcorn if you could get to the stand.


Enjoying the sites and sounds were Andrew McDonald (left) talking with Alive After Five Coordinator Michael Gill . . .


and Bobby and Kathy Parks, long-time art enthusiasts and KMA supporters.


But the music was the overlay that covered us all with a happy spirit.  As Leslie Wylie wrote in The Metro Pulse (December 8, 2008), “Their new album, Custom Made for You, would sound at home on a 1930s phonograph or in a juke joint crammed with swing dancers in saddle shoes and suspenders.” (Click here to read more comments.)


Of course, they sounded pretty good at Knoxville’s Museum of Art, too!  Welcome back, Christabel!

The Knoxville Museum of Art Alive After Five

1050 Worlds Fair Park Drive

Knoxville, TN 37916


Twitter: @knoxart

Facebook: Alive After Five – The Knoxville Museum of @rt:!/pages/Alive-After-Five-The-Knoxville-Museum-of-rt/125932406156?fref=ts

2 thoughts on “Charmed by Christabel at Knoxville Museum of Art’s Alive After Five

  1. Smallb art.

    Thanks so much for blogging about the KMA. We are so flattered that you would blog about us. We really enjoyed drawing you and are honored that you would put it on your blog. Debbie and Carrie-Ellen.

    1. Rusha Sams

      So glad I met you both at KMA! What a nice thing you did — donating your time and talent to draw portraits free of charge. Thanks! I love all three of my portraits — the colored one just showed up better on the blog. Best wishes for much artistic success!!!

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