Global Soul with Rickey Minor, Stevie Wonder and Friends
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Featured Artists: Rickey Minor, Stevie Wonder, Sharon Jones, Janelle Monáe, Grace Potter, Rocky Dawuni, Mia Doi Todd, Ceci Bastida, Bombino, Charles Bradley, the Soul Seekers, YOLA EXPO Center Youth Orchestra
Songs performed: “Poetry Man” (Mia Doi Todd); “Smile,” “I Want You Back,” “Cold War,” (Janelle Monáe); “Proud Mary” (Grace Potter); “Get Up, Stand Up” (Rocky Dawuni); “Mercy, Mercy Me” (Sharon Jones); “You Send Me,” “Superstition,” “Higher Ground” (Stevie Wonder); “What’s Going On” (All Stars) plus many more
Comments: This was a very good show. Rickey Minor, musical director for American Idol and the Tonight Show, brought together artists from different generations, genres and cultures — all in a giant celebration of soul music. There was something for everyone in this show. Soul music crosses all boundaries and touches the lives of us all. Elements of soul are found in blues, jazz, gospel, world music, reggae, R&B and rock & roll. Hip-hop was the only genre that I think was missing from the mix.
The Soul Seekers were up first. They took us to church on a Sunday evening. Bombino was up next with his soulful guitar playing. Mia Doi Todd paid tribute to Phoebe Snow who died in the past year. Charles Bradley, an old soul singer in the style of James Brown, showed off his vocals and his dramatic stage moves for an old-timer.
Ceci Bastida brought the Latin flavor. Similar in style to Shakira with rock/world music influences to her songs in Spanish. Rocky Dawuni got the crowd on their feet with his Bob Marley sing-along to “Get Up, Stand Up.”
Grace Potter closed out the first half of the show. She is from a group that bears her name: Grace Potter and the Nocturals. She was one of the highlights of the night for me. She sang her original material, very rocking with soulful vocals. Then she had the nerve to tackle Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” — but you know, she worked it! I would definitely love to hear more from this woman.
Janelle Monáe started off the second half with a moving version of the Charlie Chaplin song “Smile.” She then moved through a few of her own hits including “Cold War” which she sang on the Grammys. I was familiar with her from various TV appearances. She is definitely another one to watch. She paid tribute to soul past with her James Brown cape routine. She also did a spot-on cover of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” Michael would be proud.
Sharon Jones was up next. Again, another lead singer from a group: Sharon Jones and the Dapp Kings. I was familiar with her from her duet with Michael Bublé on his last CD. Her style is sort of jazzy coffee house. I enjoyed her, but not as much as Janelle Monae who I found to be a very exciting performer.
Stevie was up next. I had seen Mr. Wonder a few times as a surprise guest during the Anita Baker and India.arie concerts. But I have never seen him in his own show — that will still have to wait! He talked/sang a few of the songs he was inspired by as he was growing up including “You Send Me.” He only sang 2 of his own songs “Superstition” and “Higher Ground.” I would have loved to have heard more from Stevie, but due to time constraints it was not meant to be.
This event also served to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” Stevie lead the All Stars as they sang that song which still resonates today. They were backed by the YOLA EXPO Center Youth Orchestra (made up of kids from around the city).
Thanks to Rickey Minor for presenting all sides to the argument, what is soul music. It was cool to see all the different artists, plus some exciting up & comers as well as one superstar.