Lalah Hathaway Live at Center Stage

R&B songstress Lalah Hathaway sold out two shows at Center Stage in Atlanta.  The last time I heard Lalah Hatahway live was at the New Orlean’s Jazz Festival back in 2000.  During that concert she performed with Joe Sample and they worked their way through The Song Lives On.  album.  Lalah Hathaway has made stops to Atlanta many times over the years but the timing allways seemed to be off for me to make one of her shows.  This tour which comes on the heels of her 2015 release of Lalah Hathaway Live was one that I marked on the calendar as soon I as learned the dates.

She won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance for the first track on Lalah Hathaway Live,  “Little Ghetto Boy.”  Take a listen to this track which starts with Snoop Dog dropping verses about police brutality and the loss of the lives of Blacks at the hands of the police.  This is a modern day take on her father, Donny Hathaway’s, Little Ghetto Boy which was released in 1972 where the questions, misery and pain still resonates.  This show occurred on what would have been the 71st birthday of Donny Hathaway.

Opening for Lalah Hathaway was singer/songwriter Jarrod Lawson from Portland, Oregon.    My highlight from Jarrod Lawson’s set was his duet with Tahirah Memory.on “All The Time..”   I have to say that I fell in love with Tahirah Memory’s voice as she stepped up from being Jarrod’s background singer to partnering with him on this single. This is a beautifully crafted song with heart felt lyrics and a smooth musical melody that doesn’t overpower the song.  Their voices paired well together on this soulful song but it was on the vamps and riffs where they each showed the richness of their voices..

In between set’s we were treated to some great tunes to hype up the crowd by DJ Spark.  She played tracks from the 50’s through the 80’s and push the tempo to get more and more people in the crowd on their feet.  DJ Spark made it feel like a blue lights in the basement house party as the roadies converted the stage for Lalah Hathaway’s set.

Lalah Hathaway is one of those artists that makes we wonder why she doesn’t have a larger following and commercial success. If you are fan of R&B and soul music she definitely should be a part of your Libro Musica.  How many artists do you know that can actually do the impossible and sing two notes at once?.

During the show she talked to the crowd about the R&B and soul music in the 80’s.  She described songs that had two minute instrumental intro’s, actual rythm AND blues, vamps, and actual bridges between sections of the songs.  From there she blended together a tour of some 80’s classics from Anita Baker including “Angel”, “Good Love”, “Rapture” and “Your’ The Best Thing Yet”  She also covered the Gap Band’s “Yearning for Your Love.”

She performed my favorite of her songs “Forever, For Always, For Love” with a bit of coitus interruptus.  She would sing a few lyrics and then stop with an interlude.  After she did this a few times someone from the audience yelled out “YOU BETTER SING THAT SONG THIS TIME” which caused Lalah Hathaway to break out laugh.  The starts and stops were well worth the painful anticipation as Lalah and the band with some crowd participation took us on a tour de force.

The concert took on a serious note as she performed “For Those Loss.”.  This song, that Lalah Hathaway says she has only performed live on this tour, strikes at the heart as she addresses the painful problem of police killings..

‘a stop light can be murder
movements can be murder
conversation leads to confrontation
can’t take it any further’ – “For Those Loss” Lalah Hathaway

Lalah Hathaway dragged Robert Glasper onto the stage to help with the closing of the show.  It was a treat to have him on the keyboards.

If you don’t have Lalah Hathaway in your Libro Musica, you truly should!