Wednesday, I realized I hadn’t given any thought to what this week’s Battle of the Bands was going to be. I remembered I had made a list some time back, and at the top of the list was “Poetry Man,” Phoebe Snow’s 1974 single that proved to be her first big hit. Here it is, for those who don’t remember it, and for those want to hear this lovely song again. Again, this is not one of the contestants.

My next question: who should be the contestants in this battle? It would have been too easy to have selected Dana Owens, better known as Queen Latifah, as one of the contestants, but I had a feeling she would run away with the win. Arguably, her version is as good as, if not better, than the original (you can hear it here). So I went looking, and found two versions by women I had never heard of before. After hearing them, you can bet I will be finding everything I can by them.

CONTESTANT #1: Jaclyn Guillou

Per her website, Ms. Guillou is a Canadian jazz vocalist who earned a CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award for her first performance at a jazz festival, the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, in 2009. Her rendition comes from her third album, Winter for Beginners, released last November.

CONTESTANT #2: Kainani Kahaunaele

I found Ms. Kahaunaele’s bio at the website for the documentary film One Voice: “Multi-Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award [equivalent to the Grammy] winner Kainani Kahaunaele is a poet, performer and recording artist. She teaches Hawaiian language at Ka Haka ‘Ula ‘O Ke‘elikōlani Hawaiian Language College at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. Her award-winning CD, Na‘u ‘Oe, was created as curriculum to teach immersion students Hawaiian poetry.” I haven’t been able to find the name of her guitarist.


So, which of these two versions did you like the best? Jaclyn Guillou’s jazz version or Kainani Kahaunaele’s version, accompanied only by guitar? Be sure to vote in the comments below, and let us know why you liked that version better. Then, after you’ve voted here, check out the battles at the following websites:

Tossing It Out
Far Away Series
StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands
Your Daily Dose
Mike’s Ramblings
Curious as a Cathy
DC Relief – Battle of the Bands
This Belle Rocks
Book Lover
Alex J. Cavanaugh
Shady Dell Music & Memories
Debbie D. at The Doglady’s Den

Results next Friday!


Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

19 thoughts on “BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Poetry Man””

  1. John, thanks for the intro to this new-to-me song. Phoebe Snow and Queen Latifah do an equally good job with this track, but they aren’t going toe-to-toe in this competition. The two rivals you picked are nice ones. I like the simplicity of Miss Kahaunaele’s number, but she sings through her nose just a bit and that drives me nuts. So, it’s a no-brainer on my part to give my vote to the jazzy sound of Miss Guillou! Cool battle show-down!


  2. Hi, John! It’s been eons since I last heard Phoebe Snow’s “Poetry Man,” a record that went top 5 in 1975. Both of the talented female artists that covered the song in your BOTB are brand new to me and I thank you for introducing them. I tend to prefer a fully produced recording to a simple vocal over acoustic guitar arrangement and such is the case here. I preferred the vocal styling of Jaclyn Guillou backed by an ear pleasing jazz combo.

    Thanks, good buddy John, and have a wonderful weekend!


  3. Hey John. Well, both are nice. I like the simplicity of Kainani Kahaunaele’s version but I prefer Jaclyn Guillou’s better. It makes me feel like I’m in a cool jazz club. 🙂
    Hey, guess what? I’m now participating in the BOTB! I had to do something with music after my A-Z journey. I hope you’ll stop by and check out my contenders. It will be fun hanging with you all…
    Michele at Angels Bark


  4. Hi John; It’s so much fun to be a part of this! 🙂 Your song choice was unknown to me and after listening to all versions I’d say you’re right about Queen Latifah taking it hands down, if she were part of the vote. Between the two contenders here, my choice is Kainani Kahaunaele. Her version is simpler and to my ears, a bit smoother.


  5. Okay, this is hard because I really don’t like this song. I don’t like Phoebe Snow’s voice at all. If Queen Latifah was in the running, she would win hands down for me. She’s the only one who can make me even begin to like this song. I didn’t like either of the versions in the battle, but I guess I’ll have to take the lesser of the two evils. Since the first version was so boring I couldn’t even finish it, I guess I’m voting for Kainani Kahaunaele.

    Sorry I didn’t like this one, but we all can’t like all songs and artists, right? 🙂


  6. Phoebe’s version blew me away when I first heard it and then I eventually got kind of bored with it. It’s a nice song, but I guess the novelty wore off.

    KK’s version is similar to Phoebe’s. I like the simplicity of just the guitar and the singer’s voice is lovely–maybe better than Phoebe.

    Guillou’s vocal is maybe slightly less appealing than KK’s, but she’s really good and I like her style. The band is excellent and I prefer it to the guitar alone. This is a great arrangement that makes me appreciate the song more–again. It does cut off rather abruptly so I’m wondering if the actual version is longer. I know I wanted to keep listening to the combo play.

    Both very good renditions of the song, but my vote goes to Guillou.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Road trippin’ with A to Z
    Tossing It Out


  7. The jazzy version didn’t do a thing for me, which is weird because it really showcases the musicianship and talent of Jaclyn Gulliou.

    I’m a bit of a purist; I loved Phoebe Snow’s version and Kainani Kahaunaele’s take on it reminded me of a freshened up Poetry Man. As always, it’s the vocals that get me.

    I vote for Kainani Kahaunaele.


  8. JOHN ~
    While I did like the cool, jazzy instrumental backing in the first one, I gotta ask: Where the hell did the song’s melody go?

    If we could have combined the music of the first one with the vocals by Kainani Kahaunaele then we’d really have something.

    I think Phoebe still has the definitive version (not wealthy King Latifah), but given my two options here, I vote for Kainani Kahaunaele. To be honest, the simple, single guitar accompaniment started to get old to my ears, but at least she kept that pronounced melody at the forefront of the recording.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    ‘Loyal American Underground’


  9. I’m not familiar with this song… period. So no bias here.

    I liked the first one Ms. Guillou and her jazz combo over the second one (never will I spell her name correctly!).

    Nice battle. Thanks for the introduction to something completely new.


  10. Tough, tough. Both have their merits. I actually liked the vocals of Jaclyn, the music seemed constant too. KK’s seemed stilted, joltish. The music too. Give my vote to Jaclyn.

    Incidently, that was a lovely tribute to BB above.


  11. I’m late getting by, as usual. with so many new participants in BOTB, I’ve adopted the policy of visiting 3 per day, so I can devote my full attention to each.

    When I first read your title, I couldn’t place the song. I felt like I should know it, but it wouldn’t come to me. Anyway…listened to Phoebe and immediately was reminded how much I liked the song and her version of it.

    Both of your contestants are new to me and formidable opponents. I liked the Jazzy version by Jaclyn, but I felt that she kind of completely lost the melody. I know that’s sometimes common in jazz versions, but it kind of put me off.

    The simple guitar version was a little bland but the vocals were spot on so give me vote to Kainani.

    Nice Battle John, something different. Being that I’m so late in getting by here I also enjoyed your tribute to BB King. How wonderful it must have been to see him in person.


  12. Both these gals did great jobs on this song but I have to go with my fellow Canuck, Jaclyn Guillou. I love the jazzy feel and I felt it was more original than the other lady. I didn’t care as much for Kainani’s vocal as much because I have heard that style before and it didn’t do anything for me. Guillou gets my vote


  13. I had never heard this song before, but I have to go with Jaclyn Guillou. It just felt better to listen to.

    And I have news! The boss man has given me the blessing of being able to sit at the cool kids table. My first battle will be June 1. So, if you want to add my name to your list of participants – I’d like that.

    Mary @ Jingle Jangle Jungle


  14. Thank you for the tribute to BB King. He’ll be greatly missed.

    The jazz crew lost me, but that’s nothing new for me. Meanwhile, I loved Phobe Snow’s voice, and Kainani Kahaunaele brought back a sweet version of it. I vote for her. Thank you John.
    I do have a battle up.


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