Although some may scoff at the idea of a local jazz club paying tribute to pop star Mariah Carey, others — including present company — think it’s about time someone recognized the songstress for her incredible achievements throughout the ’90s and beyond.
Jimmy Can’t Dance, the newish jazz club located in the basement of Another Place Sandwich Shop, is devoting its Valentine’s Day celebrations to Carey with “Heartbreaker: A Valentine’s Tribute to Mariah Carey” on Wednesday, Feb. 14. Zach Longoria & Friends will do the honors of performing the hits.
Before we talk to owner Dennie Humphrey and musician Gina C. about the whys, let’s take a quick look at some of Carey’s stats.
- Sold more than 200 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time
- Scored the most No. 1 hits (18) of any solo artist
- “All I Want for Christmas” is the most downloaded holiday song ever
- “One Sweet Day” is still the longest running No. 1 single in the U.S.
- Named “Most Successful Artist of the 1990s” by Billboard
- Honored as World’s Best-Selling Recording Artists of the 1990s” by World Music
- Won five Grammy Awards, 19 World Music Awards, 11 American Music Awards and 14 Billboard Music Awards
Humphrey tells Insider the idea of a tribute actually came from his business partner Brian Goodwin. One night after a band had played, Goodwin piped in some of Carey’s greatest hits as people were getting ready to head out.
Although Humphrey was a little annoyed by the music selection, Goodwin pleaded, “Dennie, she is the soundtrack of our generation — just watch.”
Not even five minutes later, the room broke out in song and dance to the familiar hits. Thus, the idea for an entire evening of Carey songs was born.
“It was obvious after that incident that there is a deep love for her, and it’s pretty much rubbed off on me as well,” says Humphrey. “So there was never a doubt that this would prevail.”
He thought it would be a good idea to pair the night with Valentine’s Day — as a romantic evening for couples, or a fun, carefree singalong event for singles. He put a call out for musicians in the Louisville area who might be well-versed in Mariah Carey, and members of the Zach Longoria Project jumped on it immediately.
Gina C., one of the vocalists in the band, considers herself a true Carey fan.
“Mariah is one of my first and biggest influences as a singer, so I think I probably give Dennie a run for his money as far as Mariah love goes,” she tells us. “I’m not sure if the rest of the band loves Mariah as much Dennie, Zach and I do, but I think they appreciate how amazing her voice is.”
She says she’s not worried about naysayers rolling their eyes at the mere concept of the gig, but rather is focusing her energy on doing justice to Carey’s five-octave vocal range.
“My biggest concern when we booked this show was how vocally challenging it is and attempting to do her songs justice,” she says.
Humphrey believes the Carey tribute will help open up Jimmy Can’t Dance to people who might not have made it downtown to check it out yet.
“My ultimate goal is to introduce all generations to the idea that there can be a cool underground jazz club in the greatest city in the world, so if we have to rearrange the script to appease a greater audience, then why not have some fun,” he says. “Zach and Gina have a very broad approach to their craft, and we are excited to see what they bring to our stage.”
We decided to dive further into Humphrey and Gina C.’s love for the pop princess with a handful of questions.
What’s your favorite Mariah Carey album?
Dennie Humphrey: I’ll give this one to Brian Goodwin: “Daydream” hands down, because he is daydreamy.
Gina C.: My favorite Mariah album is “Daydream.” I got it for Christmas the year it came out (1995) and it changed my little 8-year-old life. I learned every song and credit that album with being one of the first to build my voice, teach me runs and influence me vocally.
What’s your favorite Carey song?
DH: I’ll give this question to Brian as well: “Vision of Love” — he sends this out to Lauren, who is his true love as they will be getting married in New Orleans in May.
GC: This is a hard question, but if I have to pick one, I’ll go with “Vision of Love.” Gets me in the feels every time.
Do you think Carey often doesn’t get the respect she deserves?
DH: I’m pretty sure her respect is just in hiding. In time, she will be remembered as one of the greats. We are just hopeful she will spin our heads with a new album soon that will bring her back to the top. Maybe a duet album with Jim James — who knows.
GC: I feel that even if Mariah isn’t your cup of tea, she’s still highly respected as a vocalist, regardless of her being a diva — especially by singers. We may want to eye-roll at her diva attitude, but at least she has the talent to back it up.
If you booked a show with Carey, who would you want to open it: Toni Braxton, Alanis or Jewel?
DH: If I could book a show with Mariah here at Jimmy’s, it would be Toni Braxton because it’s been great getting to know her and her sisters on TV over the years.
GC: I vote for Alanis to open. Purely because of how incredibly weird that would be.
Do you think Carey’s best years are behind her?
DH: I believe her best years are to come, as are mine as well!
GC: Sadly, I can’t predict the future, so who knows? I want to say no, but let’s be honest. It’d be crazy hard for her to outdo herself or the career she’s had. I want her to, though. Please, Mariah. Bless us with a song as great as “Emotions.” I’m rooting for you!
“Heartbreaker: A Valentine’s Tribute to Mariah Carey” runs from 7-midnight on Wednesday, Feb. 14. Tickets are $20 and include a glass of sparkling wine and desserts by Another Place Sandwich Shop. Humphrey says the event also will feature Carey-themed cocktails by mixologist Marie Zahn, as well as plenty of Champagne and sparkling wine offerings.