Monday, October 03, 2005

Hilsyde @ Temple Bar [The Art of Live Performance]


Tonight I went to a show at the Temple Bar in Santa Monica, CA to see my producer DJ O.K. perform with his boi Hilsyde. The set was cool for a Monday night outing - I was too tired, so I had to rest my eyes for a few cuts.

I love going to shows with live bands. Some of the best shows that I have seen have been in smaller venues for example The Black Cat in DC or the Knitting Factory in LA, where I was first introduced to Bilal and Jaguar Wright for the low cost of $8. Don't get me wrong, I love huge venues and big shows - I dare say it, but Justin Timberlake was off the hook at the Staples Center (and don't even say anything cus yall know Timbaland did the damn thang with Cry Me A River and that Neptunes cut *singing* do do do do, dah do do do do). I can still remember my first concerts - Michael Jackson: The Bad Tour, Janet Jackso:The Rhythm Nation Tour and Velet Rope Tour at the LA Sports Arena. MC Hammer with Jodeci, Boyz II Men and TLC opening all at the Great Western Forum. Jay-Z and the Rockafella camp at the Verizon Amphitheater in Irvine. And I cannot forget Lauryn Hill who I had the pleasure of seeing (with Outkast opening) at the former Universal Amphitheater twice in one weekend. Newly added to the repetoire this summer, the Hollywood Bowl where I saw Femi Kuti and Mos Def in one show and Gladys Knight and Chaka Khan in another.

There is nothing like live performance. It is the true test of whether an artist will sink or swim. Recently I saw Fantasia live at a tribute to Stevie Wonder. Now, I already liked the girl - but now, I am officially a bonafide fan. Some people say that she's a little too gospel with it - does too much, but I just don't think that radio and recordings can ever do an exceptional artist (with an exceptional voice) justice. And yes, I do think that Fantasia is exceptional (despite her literacy challenges, which in itself is something else). I think we are living in the age of entertainers which is fine because we all want to be entertained - I'll be the first to admit it, but I will always prefer to hear great sounds to over produced vocals. Great singers don't need hella fireworks and 100 dancers on stage, because their passion comes from performance alone. It's a gift.

As this all relates to me as an artist, I have to decide what kinda artist I will be live. There is no doubt that singing into a popper stopper and mic in a sound booth is different from trying to move a crowd of people from skeptics to believers.

*Point*A month or so ago, I was invited to an old choir member's house to watch videos from our days in the Norwood Kids Choir. As I was watching myself, I noticed two things. 1) I was given ALOT of solos 2) I sang well but was dead on stage.

*Analysis* I don't know that I should compare my 22 self with my teenage one, because many years have passed and I am mos def a different person. But seeing myself on camera nudged me not to throw caution to the wind about the danger of thinking my voice is just going to carry carry my to the top. When I was about 16-17, I had an audition/meeting with an A&R rep from then YabYum Records (Babyface's group and Jon B.'s home). Although she said that I sounded great, she said that there was no passion - no artist within. So while I stand on my soapbox about overproduced and undertalented "artists" I have to also look into the mirror and tell myself - artists are to be SEEN and HEARD!

*Think* Patti LaBelle, Lauryn Hill, Chaka Khan, Jaguar Wright.

*In Closing* As I am preparing for my first show as EllE B. in two weeks, I wonder will I rock the mic or put the audience to sleep. I have faith that I will succeed in the former because I have too much riding on this, namely my confidence. It will be the first time that I do a show performing my own material - that I wrote. Maybe before I didn't have passion because there was no ownership, that I didn't feel the need to do justice to someone else's song beyond singing on pitch and getting a few rises from the crowd. Or it could have been that at the time, I didn't have platinum aspirations except for the platinum I'd buy one day because I was going to be a successful lawyer. Either way, I know that I must be hot! and truly COME CORRECT. I wanna have folks telling people one day "Yo, I was saw Elle B. for $5 in LA back in the day."

And I'm out.


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