Best of Boston

1986 Best Performer, Local

Didi Stewart

<p>Twenty-eight years ago a wobbly-kneed five-year-old by the name of Diane Carol (“Didi”) Stewart walked onto the stage at a New Jersey Summer camp and belted out “My Darling Clementine.”</p> <p>The 33-year-old self-taught singer, songwriter, and soulful leader of Girls’ Night Out has been stage-bound even since, singing her way from New Jersey coffeehouses and North Country ski lodges into Boston nightclubs with the Amplifiers, the rock band she founded in 1978 . The group not only attracted a tremendous following but also recorded an album—Didi Stewart: Begin Here—in 1981.</p> <p>Stewart’s next breakthrough came in 1983, when she decided “it would be fun to have an all-female band perform all those great girl-group songs from the fifties and sixties.” On July 26, 1983, Girls’ Night Out took to the stage at the now defunct Inn-Square Men’s Bar, and the shows—at area clubs including the Channel. Jonathan Swift’s, and Nightstage—have sold out steadily ever since. Last spring the group released its first album, Girls’ Night Out.</p> <p>The success of the album, and of single releases such as “Love Under Pressure” and “Affair of the Heart,” promoted the group to change its format to include fewer oldies and more of Stewart’s original material.</p> <p>These days, Stewart—whose voice combines the heart of superstars like Linda Ronstadt and Melissa Manchester with the soul of Aretha Franklin—is likely to be found, notebook in hand, at Brigham’s (“I like the noise and the activity”), drinking coffee and working on new material for the band. She’s also putting together an intimate nightclub act tentatively called “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, but Rhinestones Are Her Constant Companion.” In the meantime, Stewart says, “I’ll be shopping around for the sleaziest nightclub dress I can find.”</p>