Music Park: Melanie Fiona @ Howard Theatre — 2/13/18

Melanie Fiona
Melanie Fiona performs on May 2, 2013. (Photo by Avital Zemer)

Dubbed our friendly neighbor to the north, Canada has a history of R&B generosity to the United States. Deborah Cox, Tamia and The Weekend are proof that the nation of maples is a credible musical partner, and 34-year-old Quiet Storm songstress and Toronto-native Melanie Fiona is no exception as we saw at the Howard Theatre recently.

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Music Park: Eric Benét @ The Birchmere — 1/17/18

AlbumCover_Eric Benet
Eric Benét (Photo courtesy Primary Wave Entertainment)

The Love Song Is Here to Stay: Eric Benét

A standard English dictionary likely defines “singing” as the ability to create musical notes and sounds with the use of the human voice. Meanwhile, the soulful current of barbershops, hair salons and R&B-dedicated forums gladly define “sangin’” as the ability to sing but with mandatory diaphragm use, grit, passion, and pure confidence! R&B veteran Eric Benét provided The Birchmere with a dose of sangin’ on Jan. 17, in the first of two crowded shows, with seated couples and live videos aplenty.

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Music Park: Dru Hill @ Howard Theatre — 8/18/17

Dru Hill perform at the Soul Train Awards in November 2016 (Photo courtesy the band)

The recent resurgence in urban fashion trends, reunion tours, and contemporary music samplings indicate that the legacy of ‘90s RnB is as potent as ever. To complement the nostalgic resurgence, the contemporary effect of social media allows for the genre to entertain a new generation of fans and revamp chart-toppers for longstanding fans. As evidence of this, 20 years into their career, Baltimore “boy band” Dru Hill hosted fans on nearly a two-hour trip to their sensual and street catalogue at the Howard Theatre on Aug. 18.

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Music Park: Al B. Sure! @ Howard Theatre — 6/28/17

Charles Everett & Al B Sure!
Al B. Sure! (right) with Charles Everett on Jan. 26, 2012. (Photo by Back9Network)

Al B. …Sure Still Has It!

Blueprint. Foundation. Imprint. Artists like Chris Brown, Trey Songz, and Bryson Tiller enjoy the contemporary mesh of melodious R&B and heavy-hitting hip hop beats. However, this mesh and the idea behind it isn’t a new phenomenon. Deep R&B fans can recall how Al B. Sure!, heralded by the New Jack Swing subgenre, was a pioneer for the male singer to be suave and street. Al B. reminded us of this when he played at the Howard Theatre on June 28.

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Music Park: Vanessa Williams @ Howard Theatre – 3/10/17

Vanessa Williams at the 95th Annual Miss America Pageant at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall on Sept. 13, 2015. (ABC/Ida Mae Astute)

Poise. Personality. Preservation. Vanessa Williams showed the Howard Theatre how the three principles continue guide her career into the right direction because simply put, Vanessa has “The Right Stuff.”

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Music Park: Jazmine Sullivan @ The Fillmore Silver Spring — 2/14/17

Jazmine Sullivan (Photo by Shane McCauley)

The seductive power of Teddy Pendergrass. The gospel grit of Patti Labelle. The vocal command of Jill Scott. These Philadelphia R&B influences form the soulful foundation of Jazmine Sullivan. The nine-time Grammy-nominated artist graced The Fillmore Silver Spring with the tone of less is more, demonstrating the power, range, and agility of her voice last Tuesday.

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Music Park: Ginuwine @ Howard Theatre — 1/27/17

Ginuwine performs at the 2015 Music Friendship Festival for Camp Zama, Japan, on Sept. 12, 2015 (Photo courtesy MWR Camp Zama)

1996 was the year of attention grabbing breakouts: Hotlanta hosted the summer Olympics to catapult itself to the now entertainment mecca of the South, former Vice President Al Gore demonstrated the Macarena dance to the world, and Tickle Me Elmo arguably caused childhood frenzy. Though, in the world of RnB, Elgin Baylor Lumpkin, also known as Ginuwine, emerged out of the collaborative shadows of now superproducer Timbaland to start his solo career with the frenzied single, Pony! Two decades and seven albums later, the Grammy-nominated singer returned home to DC on Friday and reminded the Howard Theatre why he’s still the Same Ol G’.

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