Speak to anyone in their fifties about Carly Simon and their eyes flicker. It's like asking today's youth about Jay-Z or Radiohead, a musical powerhouse that changed the trajectory of boomer culture. Simon's life story is made for daytime television, from her early rise in her hometown of New York City, to the very public love affair with James Taylor, to the battles with her demons. Yet through it all, Simon remains a beloved figure to so many who grew up with her in the Sixties and Seventies.
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Fast-forward to 2008, and Simon boasts more than 40 years in the business and yet another new album, This Kind of Love, released last month on Starbucks' label. Unlike her previous sound of award-winning pop heavyweights such as "Let the River Run" and commercial hits including "You're So Vain" and "Nobody Does It Better," This Kind of Love is Carly's entrée into the world of Brazilian bossa nova and jazzy melodies à la Gilberto Gil. The album's title tune is immediately transporting, the perfect soundtrack for a moody summer evening at an Old World wine bar in São Paulo. The album also marks her first collection of original material since 2000.
Meanwhile, her appearance in Miami is a rare occasion. Unlike contemporaries Carole King and Joni Mitchell, Simon is something of a recluse, who spends most her time at home in Martha's Vineyard. In fact the closest she has ever performed to Miami was in Naples in 2005. But this Friday she will take the stage at the Gusman Theater downtown as part of a benefit concert for CHARLEE Homes for Children, a foster care agency that helps 1,000 abused and abandoned children in Dade County. Along for the ride will be her son, Ben Taylor, a musician himself who's been compared to Jack Johnson and Ben Harper and has the flare of a hippie gone hip-hop
With Ben Taylor, Friday, May 16. The Gusman Center, 174 E. Flagler St., Miami. Show starts at 8 p.m.; tickets cost $150 to $5,000 and benefit CHARLEE Homes for Children and GAP: Girls Advocacy Project. 305-374-2444, www.gusmancenter.org