What Happened and How Was It - The Black Expo Gala Concert
For the second year in a row, I scored two VIP tickets that afforded me and a selected guest an opportunity to attend the Black Expo Gala in grand fashion. When I say grand, I mean delicious food and free premium liquor. Side note: If you thought Crown Royal was good, you haven’t tasted anything until you have a run with Crown Black. If you are a mixed drink kind of a guy/gal, do yourself a favor and do this one over ice. Don’t ruin this good liquor with a mixer.
Anyway, after helping myself to all the delicious offerings, I found my seat and braced myself for the show. The show was supposed to consist of Will Downing and Boney James. When a car accident on Thursday rendered James unable to attend, Thomas Media group skillfully filled the opening with the legendary Roy Ayers and the uncompromised Lalah Hathaway. As revered of a jazz artist Boney James is, the final lineup of artists actually was the better combination.
Roy Ayers, serving as the opening act, expertly played the xylophone. If your memory faltered for a moment and you forgot the jazz force that Ayers is, you were quickly reminded when heard the ‘doo-be doo, run, run, run’ of “Running Away” and the heavily sampled “Everybody Loves the Sunshine”. Ayers, his band and his lead vocalist John Pressley, had everyone wiggling in their seats. You know you are at a mature concert when you leave an event sweat-free and you still had a wonderful time.
I definitely had a wonderful time when Roy Ayers hooked a sista up with some sugar on her cheek. Don’t hate!
Next up was Lalah Hathaway. She entered the stage in a tiered sequin number that I didn’t care very much for. As laid back as her stage performance was, she could have come out in something much more casual and comfortable and it would not have taken away at all. But when she opened her mouth and uttered her first musical sounds, I thought: ‘how can the human voice do that?’ Hathaway’s voice was uniquely melodious as it went from floating on an ever-so calm wave to leaping, jumping and dashing over the river and through the woods with extreme ease. She sang many of her most popular tones, but clearly not enough for her fans. Her jazzy rendition of George Gershwin’s “Summertime” not only displayed her talent but that of her background singers and musicians as well. And when she crooned Luther Vandross’ “Forever, For Always, For Love” (which was her first number one hit) everyone believed that love could last forever.
My final thought about Hathaway was that she did her deceased father, Donnie Hathaway, proud. She’s living the dream we all had for him.
And finally, it was time for the headliner, Will Downing When Downing glided on the stage, all the ladies simultaneously sank down four inches into their seats.I wonder how the men felt to see their women (s)cream over another man.
Back to Will… Beautiful. Immaculately dressed. Charismatic. Fine… all of that rolled into one. He sang his most popular songs including the one that made me fall in love with him my senior year in high school, “Crazy”. He didn’t sing “I Try” another of my favorites. But, I unlike others, understand that an artist can’t sing every single one of his hits… they just can’t! So don’t complain; just enjoy what you got.
It is clear that shows like Downing’s are primarily for women. Few men would claim to be such a fan that they would go to this kind of show alone. But there were a ton of single women there by themselves or with girlfriends. Any woman that didn’t go with a man got cheated because her ticket price should have guaranteed her some good loving that night. But for men who went with a date, trust me, I think they will agree, that that was the best money they’ve spent in a long time.Edit