While channel surfing a couple of weeks ago, I heard a woman talking about creating herself through music. I was intrigued enough to pause, and once Butterscotch walked onto the America’s Got Talent stage for her semifinal attempt in camo and jeans, I stopped altogether.
The moment only got better from there, as she eased into a delicious take on the oft-covered “Summertime” with nothing but her body and the support of a guitar player, who did well to remain in the background. The opening trumpet-free trumpet solo oozed easy livin’, and once she started the beats I was a goner. Trick is, Butterscotch isn’t just the first female international beatboxing champion, she’s also a darn good singer and musician. Take a look:
I didn’t think anything on reality TV could top Fantasia‘s triumphant American Idol interpretation of the Gershwin classic, but Butterscotch surely came close. I soon landed at her MySpace page, where I listened to a few too-short clips (“3 AM Jam” and “Open Fire” are especially fantastic) and learned that she’s featured in Verizon’s Beatbox Mixer online video game. (If you can ignore the fact that it’s just one big ad, it’s kinda fun.) My suspicions that she is not only musically stunning were easily confirmed.
I’m no expert, but Butterscotch — who is in the music program at Cal State Sacramento — seems to be the real deal: She plays about a thousand instruments (OK, maybe not a thousand — but she sometimes plays them while beatboxing), composes music inspired by artists from Chopin to Chaka Khan, and is comfortable in a range of genres. The camera work may be shaky, but this jazz trio is nothing but solid:
Butterscotch can also stand up to the guys — a necessary skill in a musical field that’s overwhelmingly male-dominated. In an interview with Beatboxing.com, she sums up her game: “It’s like when I used to play basketball with the boys; they expected me to be terrible, but once I was on the court I showed them up.”
On Tuesday night, Butterscotch takes the stage again, this time in the America’s Got Talent finals. Though I have long tried to avoid anything involving host Jerry Springer, I know I’ll watch — and in my beat-inspired pop-culture patriotism, I fully expect to Vote Butterscotch. Anyone going to join me?