TANK with Avant and Ledisi on September 17, 2011 at the 21st Annual Umoja Fest at the Ntelos Wireless Pavilion in Portsmouth, Virginia.
Starting the show with Avant, hailed as the voice of “Ghetto Soul” and the first artist to sign to Magic Johnson’s new label “Magic Johnson Music.” He is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, Avant debuted his single “Seperated” in 1998. The popularity of this song surprised even him, but pushed him to drop his first album “My Thoughts” in May 2000.
His cover of René & Angela’s 1983 classic “My First Love,” which featured Keke Wyatt helped boost album sales amoung true lovers of R&B. This was the beginning of a decade of music from Avant. Releasing several albums and album singles, he is now known as the new voice of “Modern Soul.”
Even if you are not an Avant fan or follower if you are a lover of good music and a good show he does have some good qualities. Going through his list of crowd favorites like “Nothing in this World” and “Sailing.” The music was on point, but his transitions between songs were annoying, to say the least. He apparently didn’t have anything planned to transition from one song to the next so instead of doing so musically, he chose the “tease em” method and claimed to be going over his allotted time (of 50 minutes) and would be leaving the stage, only to start singing the next song. After repeating this four or five times audience memebers stopped paying attention to what the song was and started focusing on the time and when the next performer would be taking the stage.
Next to perform was Ledisi, who was born in New Orleans. She started out singing with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra at the tender age of 8. They moved from New Orleans to California (Oakland) and that’s where she started to grow into her own, singing in a local band with her mother. After recieving many accalades for her performances in “Beach Blanket Babylon” and as Dorothy in a local version of “The Wiz” she later formed her own band “Anibade” (which is her middle name, meaning to bring forth luck).
Her voice sometimes mellow and sultry, and other times mesmerizing and powerful, all with a contagious smile. “Effortless” is how someone described her voice… “its as if the notes were simply floating out and she wasn’t even trying!”
She opened with “Bravo” which proved to be a favorite among much of the crowd. She killed it, demanding the crowd’s attention as soon as she walked on stage. Her stage presence was palpable, and pleasant. Going on to sing “Higher Than This” “I Hear You Knocking”, “Pieces of Me” and other songs from her latest album “Pieces of Me” released in June 2011.
Ledisi definitley left me in anticipation of her upcoming tour starting October 20, 2011 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Headliner: TANK born Darrell Babbs (but given the nickname TANK because of his muscular physique) in Milwaukee, WI and later moved to Washington DC. Being a football player in highschool and with dreams of playing college ball, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to pursue music or sports, but after landing an opportunity to sing background vocals for Ginuwine and helping Dave Hollister on his album “Chicago 85… the Movie”, he was well on his way to success. After recieving recognition for his work with Dave Hollister, he finally decided to drop his own album “Force of Nature” in 2001, which had hit singles like “Maybe I Deserve” and “Slowly” (both songs still very popular amoungst R&B fans to this day). Two albums followed “One Man” (2002) and “Sex, Love, Pain” 5 years later in 2007.
He started the show with “Sex Music” from his newest album “Now or Never” (released 2010) and the crowd went CRAZY… Shocked the heck out of me after sitting for 20 minutes in the cold between performers. Was the explosion of applause for Tank or for the fact that his show was FINALLY starting? Moving on to “Heartbreaker” off of his last album “Sex, Love, Pain” and “Emergency” his latest single… Avant could take a few tips on transitioning from Tank, who gave out over $300 during his transition from Heartbreaker to Emergency. Talk about a crowd pleaser…
Overall, the show was good. Ledisi and Tank were the favorites which is probably why they were the last to perform. One thing that would have been different in a perfect world and would have made the entire event just that much more pleasurable would be HEAT!!!! The venue: Ntelos Wireless Pavilion was COLD and the seats were WET as I sat down,so that made for quite an uncomfortable first few minutes, However the music and company kept made up for it all… even Avant and his transitions (or lack there of).
Till next time.