Anita Baker (Photo courtesy Blue Note Records)
Anita Baker is one of few leading R&B acts to garner critical and musical acclaim with a husky ember tone and jazzy tempo, a pleasant contrast with many of her contemporaries. These traits afforded her a 30-year career, which is now its on farewell tour — a tour that visited MGM National Harbor recently.
Jill Scott performs at MGM National Harbor on June 25, 2017. (Photo by Chris Castillo)
The sexual. The sensual. The political. The empowerment. Jilly from Philly — you know her as R&B veteran Jill Scott — gave MGM National Harbor a potent dose of all four experiences on Saturday.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”