While visiting a friend in the Detroit area, I took a friend to 4M Restaurant, a restaurant in Ann Arbor that we’d visited before. There’s been live music during our first visit, an evening of pleasant jazz but more in a background style. It was the venue and food that we’d really enjoyed, so we returned for a Sunday brunch, which also included live music.

This time, the performer outshone the venue. Michigan is lucky to have vocalist Olivia Van Goor.

Backed by guitar and stand-up bass, Van Goor has a beautiful voice and an easy charm, captivating the audience during the songs and endearing herself to them with her pleasant patter. Despite her young age (I’m guessing mid-twenties at most) she’s clearly studied the greats; Ella Fitzgerald comes to mind, and perhaps Anita O’Day. They’d both be proud to hear how Van Goor is following in their tradition, and yet putting her own rich sound on the Great American Songbook.

According to her website, Van Goor’s latest album is titled Don’t Be Mad At Me (no danger of that!) and I believe it features the same bassist who we saw her perform with; he was excellent, and after listening to the first couple of tracks, I can confirm that she’s as talented in the studio as she is in concert. And the record opens with a superb, swinging instrumental intro to her version of Over The Rainbow, a song which I’d thought I was tired of, until I heard her sing it.

Although she’s now based in the Detroit area, Van Goor grew up in Ohio, and attended Denison University in Granville, earning a B.A. in both music and economics in 2019. (A musician with business sense!) Her family moved to Southeast Michigan in 2017 so it appears that she discovered the Detroit music scene while visiting her family during school breaks. 

Incidentally, her schedule mentions that Van Goor has collaborated with Caity Georgy, another delightful vocalist from just a few hours away in Toronto. If you can attend a show with both of these young women, I’m sure it would be one to remember.

 I’m looking forward to listening to the rest of Don’t Be Mad At Me, and to seeing Olivia Van Goor perform live again. 

-Steve Broom, February 2024