She has class, she has style — and when Diahann Carroll has a microphone, she has everybody captivated.
"I just love communicating through singing," Carroll says. "There’s nothing like it."
Carroll, 72, hits the Rrazz Room this week in performances marking her return to The City after more than a decade. Blues, jazz, standards and a few surprises are on the show’s lineup, illuminating the diversity of her career.
After an array of captivating film roles, most notably "Porgy and Bess" (1959) opposite Sidney Poitier, her celebrity soared thanks to her lead role in TV’s "Julia" in 1968. It marked the first time a black actress headlined a television show.
Another milestone was in 1984 when she entered the "Dynasty" fold — she was the first black actress to star in a nighttime soap.
"I have had lots of firsts in my professional life, but ‘Julia’ was really the most important because of the size of the audience," Carroll recalls. "But television and motion pictures are different worlds and they both have changed. Something has happened to the world in the last 10 or 15 years."
While she praises certain advances in technology, she’s also candid about the emotional price one may have to pay.
"It’s wonderful that I can e-mail my daughter and it’s there in a moment," she says. "The only problem is that I miss the intimacy of a phone call. I need to hear the inflection, the voice. So I still have these terrible phone bills. It’s a monumental adjustment for people who are my age."
Other new creative works are on the horizon, most notably Carroll’s highly anticipated memoir, "The Legs Are the Last Thing to Go," which hits bookstores this fall.
"I think the information in the book is particularly important to young women in show business," she says. "We seem to be so desperate to have a man on our arm, even if we don’t understand that we are the prey — they come looking for a woman in the business. So I share how I finally came to that conclusion."
Although Carroll is happy to be touring, she also finds inspiration spending time with her daughter and grandchildren, whom, she says, always provide her with more opportunities to live "outside the box."
"I was in the park with my grandchildren recently," she says, "and they said, ‘Come on Grandma, don’t get too carried away with yourself. Get on the slide and ride down.’ And then I thought, ‘Well, why can’t I? Just becauseI am wearing Manolo Blanik shoes doesn’t mean I can’t.’"
IF YOU GO
Where: Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. today through Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $50 to $60
Contact: (866) 468-3399 or www.therrazzroom.com