Thursday, July 8, 2010

The 2010 Essence Music Festival


The 2010 Essence Music Festival

EMF 2010Congratulations to Essence and all its sponsors on another great festival. The artists and celebrities were in true form and did not disappoint. Got Soul Sessions Radio was there and had a blast covering the concert and as many of the events as we could.

Many of the sponsors had ongoing events and appearances and performances by artists/celebrities to include Coke, Wal-Mart, Tide, Coors Light, TV One, McDonalds, Pantene, Ford and Cover Girl.

TV One reality stars, Lisa Raye, Omarosa, K-Ci and Jojo and Chef Garvin made appearances at their booth. TV will air some of the events later this summer. Cover Girl Queen Collection provided free makeovers and Pantene free hair consultations. Janet Jackson and Trey Songz made appearances at the Wal-Mart booth.

Tide's booth included a live demo that revealed the technology behind Tide with Acti-Lift amidst live music, style advice, celebrity appearances and performances by Chrisette Michele and Idris Elba.Tide Loads of Hope program continues to raise awareness of the ongoing need for support in New Orleans and other families affected by disasters. We got a chance to talk to Idris while at the Tide booth. Click here to listen.

Janet Jackson EssenceFriday was filled with a buzz in anticipation of Janet Jackson's performance later that night on the main stage. During the day Steve Harvey's relationship seminar, which also featured Sherri Shepherd and Hill Harper was the highlight of the day’s activities.

Monica got things started with her soulful r&B performing hits from her current platinum selling album, Still Standing and some of previous hits. Monica also did an excellent job covering Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and “You Give Good Love.”

Raphael Saadiq treated the crowd with his throwback soul while Chrisette Michele heated up the Super Lounge. Charlie Wilson gave an impressive performance with some of his Gap Band hits and current fan favorites. The crowd waited patiently for Janet and when she finally hit the stage it was instant energy.

Janet performed for almost 2 hours non-stop with her first major concert in almost 2 years. Jackson who celebrated her 44th birthday in May looked vibrant and as full of energy as she did twenty years ago. She started with her hits, Pleasure Principle and Rhythm Nation.

During, "Together Again,’ a photo montage of Michael played in the background."She picked the pace back up with “Control” and then “What Have You Done for Me Lately.” Before going into, “You Want This” she asked the crowd, “New Orleans, do you want more? Do you want this?” During “Miss You Much,” Jackson said, “I know you remember this one … New Orleans, I miss you.” After a brief break Janet donned a cat suit along with a whip and played out a dominatrix scene with her dancers. She later pulled a man from the audience and strapped him onto a harness hanging over the stage.


On Saturday in conjunction with the African American Education Summit two special screenings of the critically acclaimed independent film “The Lottery” were shown. Al Sharpton kicked off the African American Education Summit with remarks about the current state of Black America and where we are headed. Bill Cosby continued with animated speech about our educational system. Jada Pinkett helped facilitate the Q&A while T.D. Jakes closed the seminars with a discussion about empowering our youth.LL Cool J

Keri Hilson opened the night with a hot performance and surprised the audience with a duet with El Debarge who thrilled the crowd with his signature hits. El looked and sounded as good as Keri. LL Cool J warmed the crowd reminding everyone he is still a great hip hop artist. While LL wowed the crowd on the main stage Rebirth, De La Soul, Joe Mint Condition and Laura Izibor shined in the Super lounges.

Jada Pinkett later came on and introduced Alicia Keys who went right into her some of her hits from her current album, Element of Freedom and then her signature, "Fallin', Diary, Like You'll Never See Me Again, and she ended with “No One”. Alicia gave us a scare as she stumbled and fell backwards while performing "Love is Blind". She quickly bounced back up and finished the rest of the song on the piano bench. I suspect this may be one of her last performances until after the baby is born.


Trey Songz opened the show, serenading the ladies with his smooth vocals proving why he has becoming a sought after opening act. It’s interesting that Trey was Jill Scottselected to perform on the main stage while an artist of Joe’s caliber was in one of the Lounges but that’s why EMF is so great it give fans the option to see Joe close up if that was your preference.

Jill Scott brought great energy with her soulful performance of her hits, "Golden," "The Way," "Long Walk," "Hate on Me “and” Crown Royal". Her operatic skills were in full force as she sang, “He Loves Me”.  Jill couldn’t have done a better job energizing the crowd for Mary and Earth Wind and Fire.

Mary J Blige has had a long run of great Essence performances with this year being her eighth appearance, and this one definitely sits at the top of the list. Mary also launched her new perfume, My Life during the weekend festivities. Blige has teamed up with Carol's Daughter with the release of her fragrance, which will officially go on sale July 31st. MJB had Trey MJBSongz come back onstage to perform their duet, We Got Hood Love. Mary asked the crowd to sing along with her rendition of "I'm Going Down and they were eager to accommodate her. Later T.I. surprised the audience with an appearance as he performed his rap on, “Good Love.”

Earth Wind and Fire closed out this year’s festival with their timeless music and energy.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chrisette Michele Epiphany Tour with Laura Izibor

Two up and coming stars shine bright during Texas tour
Centric Presents Chrisette Michele Epiphany Tour with Laura Izibor

March 20, 2010: Houston, TX--Irish soul singer, Laura Izibor opened the sold out show at Houston’s House of Blues Friday night. Izibor a very sought after opening act has toured with John Legend, Maxwell and India Arie in 2009 while promoting her first cd. Laura performed songs from her critically acclaimed debut album, Let the Truth be Told, as the audience sang along to her now signature tunes, Don’t Stay and If Tonight Is My Last.

Laura also treated the audience with a sneak preview of her new song, Gracefully, a witty tale of ending a relationship on good terms. She ended her set with her first single, From My Heart to Yours in which half way through the band blended in Mary J. Blige’s, Real Love as the crowd joined her in singing the chorus. Laura warmed the crowd fulfilling expectations of those already familiar with her talents and leaving a lasting impression on a new fanbase. I’m sure it won’t be long that she’ll soon be a headling act.

To the awaiting crowds delight, Chrisette hit the stage singing her hit, Ephiphany (I’m Leaving). It seemed like all the women in room and maybe even a few of the fellas sang along, “I’m just about over being your girlfriend. I’m Leaving.” Chrisette continued with several songs from her sophomore album, Epiphany, anthems voicing womens frustrations with relationships, such as Fragile, What You Do and Porcelain Doll.

Chrisette distinctive vocals infused with jazz and r&b are even better live and her Grammy award much deserved. As Chrisette took a brief break to change her cousin and background singer played with the crowd as they joked and sang songs by Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige. Chrisette came back out a few moments later and picked right where she left off with an acoustic version of her hit song, If I Had My Way. She further displayed her powerful vocals as she ended the show with ballad, Blame It On Me.

Chrisette and Laura are a forceful tag team exemplifying real r&b without elaborate sets, dancers and marketing schemes but raw talent. High praise goes to Centric for having the foresight and courage to support two women who offer substance and pure talent to a failing genre and industry. The tour moves on to Dallas on the 20th then concludes in San Francisco, CA.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

N'dambi's Pink Elephant


N’dambi Has Got What It Takes

Pink-Elephant The much anticipated Stax debut of soul singer, N’dambi has finally arrived. Pink Elephant which was released today is Ndambi’s fourth album but first on the legendary soul label. Collaborations with veteran producer Leon Sylvers, who assisted with most of the production on the project, lend its way to a new soul masterpiece.

The Dallas native began her career alongside her friend Erykah Badu as a background singer. N’dambi was more than just backup, as she often provided a unique flavor to Badu’s live album and writing credits on “Mama’s Gun”. The critical acclaim N’dambi received with her previous independent efforts garnered a broad grass roots following that created enough buzz that Stax signed her in 2008.

Pink Elephant skillfully blends several genres with flashes of soul, r&b, jazz, blues, and hip hop. N’dambi engages in many issues throughout the cd with her sincere style of story-telling. The first single, “Can’t Hardly Wait”, is an up-tempo track that depicts the bitter sweet struggles of trying to break away from a bad relationship. “L.I.E.” (Long Island Expressway) is a clever tale of a salesman caught up in a web of cheating and lies as he tries to cover up his double life.

The production of each track is done with strategic expertise as Sylvers and others do great job of balancing N’dambi’s sultry vocals within each composition. “What it Takes” is a feel good, mid-tempo ballad that provides a smooth flow as she assures her man, “No matter what my place is here with you. We can conquer the world, hand in hand us two. Some days are rough but in me you have a friend. We can make it together. See it to the end.”

“Nobody Jones” is another powerful track revealing N’dambi’s talent for reflective and inspiring lyrics. With the help from songwriter, Rod Temperton this inspirational account of a young girl with hopes in her heart determined to overcome her environment and circumstances is a gem. “A dream is only real when its starts inside of you. To believe will take you far, to the moon, sun and stars.” Another highlight is One, a ballad that skillfully incorporates a sample of Isaac Hayes, “Walk on By” with her velvety croons to her lover.

“The World Is A Beat”, blended with a hip hop beat relays the current state of music that is often fueled by greed and lacks quality. Other tracks such as the jazz/blues infused Imitator and “Free Fallin’” further reveals the uniqueness of her sensual contralto and her melodic vocals. “Mind Blowin’” is another mid tempo song that serves as an ode to how good music can make us feel.

Overall Pink Elephant is a great effort and a timely gem for music fans that are tired of the mainstream garbage that floods the airwaves. N‘dambi is currently on a promotional tour with stops in her hometown, Dallas, NY, LA and D.C. For more info log on to at

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mos Def, Stokely, Ledisi & Bilal perform in Houston

Underground Soul Sessions Part 2 - The Callabo

Mainetain for Got Soul Sessions

Houston's Arena Theatre once again was the site for Underground Soul Sessions 2 -“The Collabo” featuring Mos Def, Ledisi, Bilal, Stokley from Mint Condition, Houston artists Caretta Bell and Neon Collars. If you missed this show we are sorry for you because it’s unlikely you will ever see all these artists on the same stage again.

In an industry saturated with so called “r&b divas”, the soulful, Caretta Bell was a very appropriate and refreshing opening act. Caretta, a prominent figure in Houston’s burgeoning underground soul movement warmed the crowd with songs from her debut album, Love’s Eye View. Her skillfully smooth and melodic vocals flowed effortlessly with jazzy, soulful infusions laced with hip hop. What takes many artists years to attain, Caretta naturally posses a gift of controlled vocals and stage presence to match. Be on the look out for Caretta to shine on the national and international stage as she’s one of the best artist out of Houston or the South period in a long time.

Another surprising artist out of Houston, Neon Collars took the stage following Caretta. They performed several songs from their debut cd, Chasing Strange with a convincing blend of hip-hop, soul and rock. Houston artists definitely represented well as they built anticipation for the headliners.

Stokely was the first to take the stage backed by an all star band of several members based out of Houston. As was expected Stokely teased the crowd with his signature sultry vocals. He performed, Walked on by” with local hip hop artist Kay. He quickly introduced Bilal who sang 2 songs before passing the mic to Ledisi. The jazzy songstress played with the crowd and band almost as if it were a rehearsal. She went back and forth between her freestyles and scats to even a few verses of Tina Marie’s “Out on a Limb” before introducing Mos Def.

Mos Def thanked the crowd for coming out and went right into one of his more recent songs. For a brief moment I almost forgot what an incredible MC he is until he opened his mouth to speak. With such a smooth and rhythmic flow Mos again reminded everyone that music and hip hop are still his passion and foundation for all his success beyond these realms. With the crowd on the edge of their seats begging for more, Mos Def exited the staged promising everyone that he was sure to return.

After a brief intermission, Stokely once again graced the stage and launched into his infamous, “Single to Mingle” where he played with the crowd and experimented with the band. Going back and forth with all the musicians as if he himself was an instrument, Stokley went into a scat that displayed how truly talented he is. He was later joined on stage by Ledisi who scatted with him until the band went into her hit “Alright”. Towards the end of her song Stokely called Bilal back to the stage who helped Ledisi finish her song. The band then started playing Bilal’s “Reminisce” as Mos Def returned to the stage. By this time they all had mics and Ledisi and Stokely provided background vocals for Bilal as Mos Def went into his verse.

With three of the most talented singers in the industry as his background vocals, Mos Def went into a jazzy rendition of his hit, “Ms. Fat Booty” which wowed the crowd. As if “Ms. Fat Booty” wasn’t enough, he concluded with a remix of his anthem, “Umi Says” which the crowd and likely everyone in the building sang along. To conclude they all introduced themselves again along with the band and thanked everyone for coming. True music fans were really the ones who should have been thanking them for coming because we were the ones privileged to have witnessed an incredible collaboration of great artists.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Winter Music Conference 2009


Winter Music Conference 2009 Highlights

If you missed this year’s Winter Music Conference then we hope you make plans to be there next year. WMC has been going on for 24 years and continues to be one of the industry’s most attended events by artists and djs from all over the world. This years conference was held on March 24th-28 in Miami, FL.

One of the biggest events of the week was the International Dance Music Awards held on Thursday March 26th. Some of the winners included the following:

Best Global DJ- Tiƫsto

Best Underground Dance Track Pjanoo - Eric Prydz - Pryda/Ultra Records

Best R & B/Urban Dance Track Disturbia - Rihanna - Def Jam

Best Rap/Hip Hop Dance Track Love Lockdown - Kanye West - Roc-A-Fella Records Best Pop Dance Track Just Dance - Lady Gaga - Interscope

Best Break-Through DJ Deadmau5

The Dj Spinoff was held at The Miami Beach Resort & Spa Poolside hosted by DJ Shortee and Felix Sama.

Sunset Soiree at the Delano Hotel in Miami Beach, FL

Somalian hip hop artists K’naan was the headliner for Giant Step and Steve Madden Music’s Sunset Soiree at the Delano Hotel on Saturday. Donned in a black top hat, scarf and matching sweater K’naan performed some of the songs from his recent album, Troubador such as “Fatima” and “Take A Minute”. His set consisted of simply a acoustic guitar and djembe drum. On the reggae laced song, “Waving Flag” he welcomed special guest and reggae artists, Matisyahu as the two have previously performed together. This event also featured Rye Rye, Wayna, Joy Jones, Brendan O'Hara & The Big Bounce and Philadelphia DJ Vikter Duplaix. Quest Love was a guest DJ later that night in Delano Hotel’s Florida Room along with MC Yahmeen and DJ Keen One. On Thurs Pete Rock also did a set there and Friday King Britt.

The closing event for WMC, Ultra Music Festival, was held on Friday March 27th and Saturday, March 28th at Bicentennial Park for the 11th year. Some of the performers for Friday were The Black Eyed Peas, Tiesto, Bloc Party, David Guetta, Deadmau5, Santogold, The Ting Tings, Steve Lawler, Sneaky Sound System, Perry Farrell, The Whip, Rye Rye, Pendulum Live, Roni Size Reprazent and more.

Saturday there was The Prodigy, Paul Van Dyk, Armin Van Buuren, Booka Shade, Above & Beyond, Fedde Le Grand, Infected Mushroom, ATB, Kaskade, Markus Schulz.


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