Trisha Yearwood Proves 'Real Live Woman' In New York

Club crowd gets rare country-diva concert as singer warms up for tour.

NEW YORK, N.Y.Trisha Yearwood previewed her upcoming Real Live Woman Tour with a rare

club appearance at New York's Irving Plaza on Wednesday.

It was part of a weeklong flurry of media events surrounding the release of her Real Live Woman album (RealAudio excerpt of title track) and culminating with her upcoming "Live by Request Starring Trisha Yearwood" special Saturday on

the A&E Network.

Opening the Irving Plaza date with the new album's lead track, "Where Are You Now," Yearwood paid tribute to her warmup act Kim Richey, who co-wrote the song with Mary Chapin Carpenter, and then launched into a breathtaking blend of new songs and past hits that showcased her vocal strength and range.

On the new disc's "One Love," for instance, she equaled Wynonna Judd's, R&B power — if not the sass

— while capably employing a similar backup-vocal trio. But Yearwood separates herself from the rest with her warmth and subtlety, as she demonstrated once again with her 1991 debut hit "She's in Love With the Boy," which she still sings with conviction.

Another predictable past hit and set standout was the Diane Warren-penned "How Do I Live," Yearwood's pop smash, which the singer prefaced with an engaging observation that the love song, from the Con-Air action film soundtrack, was accompanied onscreen by a plane crash. It was followed by the power ballad "There Goes My Baby," which showcased Yearwood's superb technical skills.

The new album's title track, written by Bobbie Cryner, lyrically summed up her "real live woman" unpretentious, everywoman appeal. When Yearwood brought out opening act Richey to join her on the 1996 hit "Believe Me Baby (I Lied)," a Richey composition, the appeal was doubled.

Richey's singing is as pure and unaffected as her songwriting. Unfortunately, her solo set was marred by crowd noise, no doubt exacerbated by her lack of a backup band to fully bring out the production values of her recent album Glimmer, which was produced by Hugh Padgham (the Police, Sting).

But the unflappable Richey won everyone over anyway — given her huge talent and personality, rightfully so.