You Bring Me Joy, Ms. Anita Baker

I’m still on a high from seeing the amazing Anita Baker at the world famous Radio City Music Hall Sunday night.  She was everything I hoped she would be…and then some.

The show’s opening act was comedian Pete Dominick.  At first, I was a little bit apprehensive that his humor would be off…well, with him being white and the audience being predominantly close to middle-aged black folks.  I can only do the white vs. black jokes but for so long.  Refreshingly enough, he joked about topics ranging from married life to children to…black people.  Okay, of course he had to go there, but praisingly enough, it was funny.

The show tardily started after 9, but when you come to see a legend like Anita, you don’t complain…you just wait.  When the lights dimmed and the curtain rose, the crowd began a thunderous round of applause before the lady of the night even appeared on stage.  Then she walked out in a long gown in her favorite color, black.  The shoes had plenty of sparkle as the lights on stage made them glimmer into the audience.  Her three backup singers and five piece band along with the music director on the grand piano complented her ensemble as they all wore white.

She sang old time favorites like “Sweet Love” to open the show and talked to the crowd as she segued from one song to another with serene moving backgrounds like rain drops, corn fields (that’s what it looked like) and a clear blue sky.  One of the best moments of the night was when an audience member brought her flowers and when he was confronted by security, she allowed him to present them to her.  She kept her audience involved in her show as she asked everyone what song next they wanted to hear next.  There were times when she was getting really into it and told the crowd to “get stupid,” encouraging people to get out their seats and enjoy themselves.  She also took the time to thank some of the celebrities in the audience like gospel great Bebe Winans, The View host, Sherri Shepherd and Bill O’ Reilly….yeah, you read it right.  the controversial FOX News anchor was in attendance to enjoy the sounds of Ms. Baker.  She said it best, “music has a way of bringing everyone together.”  She went on to bring Bebe on stage for an impromtu duet to “No One In This World.”

That wasn’t the only duet Anita had in store.  Close to the end of the show, she brought out an artist with whom she has a new single debuting on radio airwaves in the coming days, as she announced.  Also donned in all white, Tyrese Gibson graced the stage to sing slongside the slow jam goddess.

At the end of her show, she said she usually sings “Angel” for her encore performance, but for the first time in ten years, she let the audience decide the show closing’s fate.  When she suggested “Body and Soul” to be performed instead, the crowd cheered in approval.  It was a classy show for a timeless, classy performer.

Another day in Brooklyn…Radio City, NYC

My favorite R&B group of the 90’s is back!!! SWV, I missed thee!

Now I know how my mom feels when she hears Earth, Wind And Fire is coming to town.  Nothing like hearing the songs you jammed to back in the day, to be performed live with the artists right in front of you to bask in their energy.  If there is one group from my childhood that I was a true stan for, it would be the ladies of Sisters With Voices, better known as SWV.  As much as their hit tracks like, “Weak” and “Human Nature” are still in heavy rotation on radio stations, it’s crazy to think they were only in the music scene for a solid five years in the 90’s before fading into the background.  Now 15 years since the last time they released a studio album, they are back and stole my heart once again as a grown woman in my late 20’s as they did when I was a budding pubescent pre-teen more than a decade and a half ago.

I’m a sucker for all things old school, as when I was an on-air radio personality at my university radio station, I probably played at least one SWV song once a week on my late-night R&B formatted show.  It’s something about the music of the 80’s and 90’s…the beats and lyrics were so much more romantic rather than sexual like what we hear today.  So when I learned of their album listening party being held the day after I returned from Korea, I knew it was a blessing reserved for me.  I was skeptical as to what the new album would sound like, but they proved me right.  I was classic SWV.  They didn’t try to get 2012 on us with the auto-tunes and collabos with 2 Chainz and all that.  They featured two upcoming artists, but that was it.  STRAIGHT R&B.  And as they said at the listening party, “We are almost in our 40’s and that’s what we are representing.”  Can’t be mad at that.

So as if attending the listening party and interviewing the ladies wasn’t enough last month, I got to see them perform live at the famous Sounds of Brazil (SOB’s) located in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood on Tuesday for KISS-FM’s R&B Side concert series.  It was a full room, and I almost got jumped a few times from some aggressive female fans as I squeezed my way to the front to get a good view of the songstresses on stage for photos.  They performed a short but sweet 45 minute set, with songs from their latest album, I Missed Us, which came out that same day.  Their performance included singles from the new album, including “All About You,” “Co-Sign” (their debut single) and a rendition of Patti Labelle’s “If Only You Knew.”  They even did a little two-step choreography for the fans.  Hosted by NYC radio legend Ed Lover (who looks more like age 30 than 50 #blackdontcrack) and sounds provided by DJ Qua, I may have been considered one of the “babies” in the audience because of my age, but I respect and appreciate good music, no matter how long it takes to return. Welcome back SWV!

Another day back n Brooklyn…

Check out my photo gallery below from the show at SOB’s and click on the link to read my interview with the trio for Parlour Magazine.