I first heard of Ari Shapiro two years ago. I knew he was someone from my hometown of Beaverton, OR and was a nationally known journalist working for NPR (National Public Radio) who’d become a co-host of the famed ‘All Things Considered’ program. We listen to him daily, here at the SGN offices.
I personally met Shapiro, 39, last fall at the Association of LGBTQ Journalists Convention in Philadelphia. About a month later I was thrilled to learn he would be in Portland to perform his one-man show, ‘Homeward,’ which he presented at the World Trade Auditorium in Portland last month. (On other occasions when he’s in Portland he performs with the Portland-based band, Pink Martini.)
For his show Shapiro wore a dark suit and shared compelling stories of the people he had met during his travels and sang songs related to those stories in multiple languages including French, Kurdish, Arabic, Scots Gaelic, Ukranian and English. For his stories related to Syrian refugees he sang ‘Ay Shengal’ in Kurdish and ‘Belsharea’ in Arabic and for his experience in Scotland covering their 2014 Referendum on Scotland becoming independent from the United Kingdom he sang ‘Flower of Scotland’ in Scots Gaelic.
Other songs on the program included ‘Fils de’ sung in French and ‘Plyve Kacha’ sung in Ukrainian.
Because he was in Portland Pink Martini band members Storm Large and China Forbes came to the show and each joined him on alternating nights for one song. The night I was there Forbes joined him on stage for the duet and, coming up from her seat in the audience, together they sang ‘Boys in the Back Room/When the Saints.’
After all the seriousness, Shapiro started to show off his fun side with the Nina Simone version of the Beatles classic, ‘Here Comes the Sun.’
For the encore, Shapiro told the story of how his husband of 12 years, Michael, suggested that he needed to end the show with something upbeat like ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and as he was looking back at the show he realized that the song did fit into the show after all.
Shapiro then remarked, ‘Always listen to your husband.’
After the show, Shapiro answered questions on note cards from the audience. With a full house, Shapiro was indeed welcomed ‘Home.’