Category Archives: Distinguished Artists
Friday, May 11, 2012: The Heart Healers have geared up for another electrifying experience by hosting Muhsinah for her Gone Tour at The Music Hall Jazz Café in Detroit, MI. On May 25th, 2012 the “Luvolution” will begin promptly at 8pm with indie artist Monica Blaire and radio personality, Suga Rae as hosts and special guest Ideeyah for the evening of music, art and passion. Be prepared to take in the poignant sounds of Muhsinah, a Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, composer and arranger- or you can refer to her as “The Golden Girl”.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Arts, Beats & Treats
Detroit, MI –Come experience an evening filled with the soulful sounds of Saxappeal, the sweet and savory tastes of Yum Delish and the sights of Detroit based visual and sketch artists at Arts, Beats & Treats!
The Elizabeth Theater right above Bucharest Grill on Park & Elizabeth Street was packed with music enthusiasts of all genres. With the powerful lineup of Ms. Nissa, RenCen CoolBeanz and featured duo out of L.A., J*DaVeY, no one left the theater underwhelmed or unsatisfied. The concert was put together by The Heart Healers a promotion company in Detroit “spreading love through diverse expressions of art and culture”, and we got just that with the eclectic mix of talents on and off stage. Vendors were present from t-shirt company Detroit Snob, to Salika’s Dream Cheesecakes as well as hand-crafted jewelry and artwork.
On Saturday, February 25th mounds of supporters, family, friends and first-timers (including moi) poured into the General Motors Auditorium at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History to share in the love fest that is a Darnell Kendricks show. I absolutely meant a love fest. Just as the title of this blog post reads, there were plenty of friends in the audience who shared their love for Darnell, his music and even shared the spotlight.
Funny Comedian Mike McDaniel was the host of the evening and kept everyone entertained with his dynamic stage presence, impersonations and million dollar jokes. You can check him out at www.IAmMcDaniel.com. To get the party started, Mr. Deon Yates, a smooth jazz saxophonist dazzled everyone with his excellent band accompanying him. The opening selection was an original composition entitled “Freeway” on his album. Deon also did a few toe-tapping covers like Ne-Yo’s “Can’t Stop” and Jennifer Hudson’s “Spotlight” before leaving us with another original composition.
Mike McDaniel came back to introduce Darnell Kendricks and he came out looking dapper in a light-brown blazer, jeans and a tie. The band began to play the intro to Anthony Hamilton’s “So In Love” and Darnell ushered in a presence of soul to set the tone for the evening with every note he sang. And just as I stated in the first paragraph, Mr. Kendricks is very giving with his spotlight and called various artists who were in attendance to come up and sing. The first called up was local emerging artist Trezz Larry to sing during “Strawberry Lemonade”, a popular song of his as well as the title of one of his albums. A contributing writer to “Strawberry Lemonade”, Danny Young was also called up to sing.
What I appreciated about Darnell’s show is the family-oriented relationship he has with his band members. Every background artist and musician was given a heartfelt backstory of how they caught Darnell’s attention and he publicly showed his love and appreciation for them in different ways before their solos. Jeff Ponders, saxophonist for R&B band Hotsauce, was given a featured solo on DeBarge’s “I Call Your Name”, as well as many other guest soloists and a poet to share a piece about love. Eventually it was time to end the show but Darnell made sure to end the “Evening of Soul” with just that; Marvin Gaye’s “All The Way Around”, “I Want You” and the finale ending with Rev. Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”.
Anytime folks rise to their feet to sing and sway with the act on stage means that it is definitely a success. Not only was Darnell’s original material very soulful and lyrically pleasing, the professional set-up of his band and the flow of the show made for a great act that we hope to read about traveling around the country very soon.
It was a cold and snowy evening in Detroit but the atmosphere was warm and inviting inside Prive Deux on Friday, February 10th. Urban Organic put together yet another great show featuring indie-soul artist Sy Smith and friend of Distinguished Detroit, Zo! as her accompanying keyboardist/Music Director. The hilarious Heather Jay was the host for the evening and Charity was the opening act. As usual, Charity left the audience speechless with her smash single, “Sounds Like Love”, available on iTunes, amongst other great compositions.
When Sy and Zo! hit the stage everyone was ready to receive the Foreign Exchange singer’s energy and angelic vocals. Sy was dressed in a beautiful grey tunic with black cut-out leggings and black heels that had the ladies in awe of her poise as she performed without kicking them off or standing in an uncomfortable stance. Her makeup was flawless and her signature curly fro was bouncing as, Zo! perched behind his keyboard with his Detroit fitted cap and a smile. Surprisingly, Sy was playing the synth bass keyboard as she was singing!
The first song to get it started, befittingly, was “Fa Sho” off of her latest album, The Syberspace Social. The funky party anthem had heads bopping and fingers snapping as she sang her way to the second verse, but then abruptly stopped the band when she didn’t get the response she asked for in her lyric.
“Last but not least
Give us some energy
Positive is the best”
Once the audience got the hint, Sy counted the band back in and rocked out the rest of “Fa Sho” and it set in for everyone that this was going to be an interactive show filled with awesome vibes from Sy, Zo! and the band. With Detroit’s own Brandon Williams on drums, Kenny Rocket on guitar and LaDarrel “Saxappeal” Johnson on saxophone, how could they go wrong? And Zo- a Detroiter himself- awesome composer and pianist, who has released quite a few records under The Foreign Exchange’s music label, had everyone mesmerized by the chords he played. You could tell he was happy to be home and with every stroke of the keyboard, he beamed a smile to us that was all love!
In the interview I did with Zo! a while back (check it out here), he told me that Sy Smith was his favorite to perform with because of how she flowed effortlessly and just did her thing minus staying on a grid. We got to witness this first hand as they played “Driving” a cut from Zo!’s Just Visiting Three, and “Greatest Weapon of All Time” from Sunstorm. Sy joked that when he sent her the latter track she was excited to write “A million dollar song and make millions of dollars”, but instead their currency was “millions of smiles”, said jokingly. Then finally Sy stepped from behind the synth bass to serve us her and Zo!’s rendition of Prince’s “Crazy You” and then hit us with a soulful rendition of “My Funny Valentine”. She was in her element and we were zoned in to her vocal mastery, body language and overall stage presence!
We were also gifted the live experience of Sy’s solo music with songs like “Aquarius Rising” and “Time” along with a host of others. I am sure there wasn’t one person in the room who wasn’t caught up in the rapture of Syberspace as she wooed and grooved us into a good time, leaving us wanting more when she announced the last song of the evening. Sy Smith and Zo! truly make a phenomenal pairing in chemistry and artistry and it was a delight being in the room with them to share a mutual love of music. The musicianship, stage presence and overall sound of the band didn’t go unnoticed in my book and I’m looking forward to hearing much more from both extraordinary artists!
It was a cold and rainy evening on Wednesday, January 27th but neither rain nor cold stopped the Tangent Gallery from filling up to capacity. Drinks were pouring, popcorn was popping and vendors were showcasing hot items such as jewelry, hats and tasty treats (Shout out to Fancy Schmancy Cupcakes for the Eric Roberson-themed cupcakes)! Urban Organic & Rain Man Entertainment teamed up to present not only a concert but an interactive experience that gave us a fusion of live music and creative arts. This marks my fourth Eric Roberson concert and each experience leaves me with an elevated appreciation for indie music’s hardest-working soul artist! Mr. Nice Guy is the title of Mr. Roberson’s latest album that dropped October of last year and it has been in heavy rotation on my iPod.
“Mr. Nice Guy yeah…last to be thought about. First one’s she’s turning down (Guess I’m the odd man out). Mr. Nice Guy tired of coming in last. Maybe I’ll be better off just chasing the ay, ay, ay!”
Yum Delish Treats provided delicious chocolate-covered berries to VIP ticket holders (click here for our first feature article on their services). DJ L Boog was holding it down with good music in between sets and Nick Austin was our host for the evening. The first act up was J. Tait- a local artist and back-up vocalist for Detroit’s own Dwele- who will soon be making his mark in the music world. He gave us a bit of old school soul and engaged the audience with his presence. Next to grace the stage was Charity, an acoustic princess whose music exudes love, energy, and self-respect. It was my first time hearing her perform the sensual “Indescribable” and that song most definitely took us “there”! Once J. Tait and Charity got the audience warmed up, L’Renee came out and took us to school as she opened with her original song, “Yes I Do”. Her jazzy and melodic riffs were giving me chills as she sang “Material Girl” and “Reflections” amongst other hits from her roster of albums.
It was finally time for the man of the evening, Mr. Eric Roberson, to grace us with his presence. The audience was amped and cheers exploded in the room when he came out, dapper as ever in a nice suit and his signature glasses. The band was playing “The Newness” and Eric sang every note with a swagger that had the audience in the palm of his hand. There wasn’t a dull moment during his set-people were swaying back & forth, waving arms, snapping fingers and up dancing- under the Erro spell! And wasn’t hard to get caught up since he performed signature classics such as “Pretty Girl”, “Softest Lips”, a radio-favorite “Borrow You” and off of the latest album “Fall” and “Picture Perfect”. Then there are always the medleys where he fuses his music with old school jams and matches with the classic dance moves. And I think I would be pretty accurate to say that veterans of his show always look forward to the segment of his show where he freestyles a song from words yelled out by the audience. Eric never misses a beat and knows how to keep the audience engaged!
To cap the night off with a happy ending to another sad departure (we always hate to see him leave) Erro and his fantastical (yes fantastical) band gave us a funky house mix that had everyone on their feet jumping around like we were at a rave in a remote warehouse in the country! While jumping around onstage to his special “Change for Me” house mix, Eric Roberson departed and everyone stood to their feet cheering and dancing as the band played their last notes.
‘Tis the season to be distinguished! And there is no better way to ring in the holiday cheer than with new music from Royal Greatness herself, Gwenation! On this past Wednesday, December 21st, A Gwenation Christmas was released for the masses to enjoy just in time for the holidays and the attendees of Open Mic Jam got a chance to enjoy the music in person and purchase autographed copies. The 4731 Gallery was jam-packed and everyone was gathered around the stage anticipating new music from Detroit’s rising diva.
Since the Holidays are centered around celebrating with family, it was very necessary for Gwenation’s album release to involve her family members, as well as on the album. Setting the tone for the evening and reminding us of “the reason for the season”, Gwenation sang her jazzy rendition of “O Come All Ye Faithful” accompanied by her uncle Timothy Moore, Sr. Then the party was started as her talented background vocalists (and blood sisters) MiMi and Becca Je` accompanied her for the party groove “Miss You Like I Thought”. Next was a remake & duet of “This Christmas” with Dyrel J, the lead singer of Detroit’s R&B “man band”, Hotsauce. I must say their rendition- hands down- is the greatest of Donny Hathaway’s cult classic!
Accompanied by an acoustic guitarist, “The Christmas Song” had everyone hanging onto her every note, riff and run Gwenation sang with ease and comfort. My personal favorite on the album is her hip-hop/soul rendition of “Santa Baby” and it soon became a favorite amongst the crowd. And the special treat of the evening; “Have Yourself A Merry little Christmas”, a family record with her mother, three sisters and best friend Tommy Henderson was a crowd-shocker and a wonderful joy to watch a musical family unite in song.
DJ L Boog, the founder and host of Open Mic Jam was celebrating his birthday that evening so Gwenation saluted him by singing Andre 3000’s “Prototype”, then ended the night with her latest single, “The World Is My DJ”. The entire performance was a polished presentation of what to expect on A Gwenation Christmas so I doubt you want to spend your holiday without purchasing it for only ten dollars here! Be sure to check out other released material at Gwenation.Bandcamp.com and follow her on Twitter, @Gwenation!
Karl Kingson is a very well-known performer in the city who has titillated quite a few audiences with his electrifying choreography and music that raises the hair on your arms. Not only is he well versed in the performing arts but he is no stranger to media arts- creating music videos and promo commercials for his shows. Although he has a wonderful support system and people who help build his kingdom, he is truly a one-man show. Mr. Kingson recently had a show at U Detroit Cafe in Harmonie Park on Friday, December 11th but unfortunately the Distinguished Detroit camp could not attend.
The awesome thing about social media that is overshadowed by all of the drama it can create or harness is its ability to inform and archive details when one is not present. If you have a Facebook or Twitter account then you are privy to the monstrous amount of tweets or status updates when an award show or popular television show is on. Or even if there is an event within your local area and the majority of the people you know are in attendance, there will be plenty of reporting minus commercial breaks or wiggy news anchors. With that being said, I wanted to try something different and post all of the pleasant comments and reviews of Mr. Kingson’s show as well as photos for your viewing pleasure. Although DDET was not there in person, we were there in spirit and friends of our site gave us plenty to savor until the next time Karl takes the stage. Enjoy below
NiaAnnesha ~Gifted and Cursed~
boogsworld DJ L BooG
NiaAnnesha ~Gifted and Cursed~
wfmatix ♪ Awkward Genius ♫
@IamKarlKingSon RIPPED THE ROOF OFF OF UDETROIT CAFE !!! Great Job Fam !!!
Great show @IamKarlKingSon 2nite!!!
SassiBlaque Sassi Blaque
EllieSandiego Liz St.Clair
LoganMarioMusic Logan Mario
@IamKarlKingSon Great seeing you Karl! Keep doing your thing! Sorry we didn’t get to chat more!
MssDani Dani Michelle
@IamKarlKingSon very proud of you
VinaMills Vina Mills
DDHollins Derek D. Hollins
@IamKarlKingSon Had fun bro, it was great show
LoweDunnit Lowe Dunnit Comedian
shouts out to @IamKarlKingSon for inviting me to perform last night..that show was well put together fam..
@IamKarlKingSon your the performer I just followed u! now get some sleep
KeziBear Kezia Russell
S/O to @IamKarlKingSon who murdered his show last night! Great man. Not everyone understands his art.. but thats their loss <3
ijuzwannadanz Lydia Sims
Be sure to support Karl Kingson at www.KarlKingsonPRESENTS.com for more information and the artist. SUPPORT DETROIT!
R&B Live is a music showcase that highlights the up and coming artists in the city as well visiting artists from out-of-state. I had an opportunity to attend the latest one at The Music Hall jazz Cafe, Acoustiq Musique this past Friday, December 9th and I assure you this is not an event you want to miss the next go ’round! The show was hosted by Jay Michealz and had a nice roster for attending patrons ready to have a good time.
The show opened with an R&B duo by the name of Mirimage who gave us the right grooves to set the tone for an evening of feel good music. Britney Stoney took the stage next with a percussionist and her famed guitar, serenading us with original pieces, “A Plus” (for the haters), “Dreamality” (make your dreams reality), “My Favorite Song”, “3″, and the famous song known by many “Rebel”. Ms. Stoney definitely left the audience wanting more and put on a heck of a show despite technical difficulties trying to deter her energy. It didn’t work- we were served with awesome stage presence, material and creativity.
Next on the roster was Matt Reed & TGP an ecclectic fusion band hailing from Backlick, Ohio. They gave us a lot of energy, funk and individuality with their mash-up of electronic and hip-hop music.Once we got done riding the Matt Reed & TGP train, we were introduced to a very talented local band who did a host of covers as well as originals, named THE HTS Band featuring Kendrick Hardaway & Elise King. They wowed us with an Arrested Development, “Everyday People” vibe, making us feel like they’ve been around all along and we were just catching on.
Pato Margetic was next on the list and he was a special treat in my eyes. As he leaned into the microphone and crooned with a voice that was very subtle yet demanding of attention, we were caught up in the rapture of his acoustic spell. And just to tease us even more of his limitless ability to croon us with any song via guitar, Usher’s “Nice & Slow” was the next song selection that proved a hit for the audience. Next, Pato invited a local artist and collaborator, Keely to sing “Love Still Works”. He was a hit with the audience and I couldn’t wait to get home and fire up my laptop so I could hear and learn more from the Detroit artist. Discovering new talent in my city is like a kid attaching him or herself to a new video game- I have to find it, buy it, and play it out!
Although the acts before the opener had us pretty full, there was still room left for dessert as the sweet Charity and her guitar graced us onstage. The love was warm in the Jazz Cafe and as she started to strum her guitar to the melody of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”, the feeling expanded. The next was one of my personal favorites, “Pink, Purple & Gold” (which I am highly anticipating her album for) and she added an excerpt of another classic Stevie Wonder Song, “Isn’t She Lovely” but with her acoustic twist. The final song for the evening is a song that is available for purchase on itunes, entitled “Sounds Like Love” which is already a smash well within its right (check out the video below). Not only did Charity serve us wonderful lyrical content, spellbinding vocal riffs and a personality fit for the stage, she also gave us the sound of love.
The entire show was well worth the ticket price and there will be plenty more. I encourage everyone to check out each and every artist that was on the showcase (pictures below) and be on the look out for upcoming ventures from R&B Live Detroit featured here.
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Noel Night is an annual event that takes place around the holiday season every year in Midtown Detroit. The museums are open for extended hours to the public free of charge as well as shops with extended hours to get a jump start on holiday shopping. Street vendors are even within a blocked off section of Woodward in front of The Detroit Institute of Arts for live music, food vendors and patrons to walk uninterrupted by traffic.
This year a special treat was given to us as The Detroit Historical Museum hosted a special evening with Detroit’s burgeoning artist, Monica Blaire. My boyfriend accompanied me on this journey and as we found the auditorium where she was to bless us with her talents, we were happy to see a full house. Seats were packed and the room was warm with holiday cheer as well as the temperature climbing within the compact theater. However, no one was leaving or missing their opportunity to witness another Monica Blaire experience, or a new experience, for that matter.All of a sudden an applause broke out and we turned around to see a beauty walking towards us in a gold sequin tube dress with an ivory sheer flowing to the bottom. Monica’s hair was pulled up in an elegant ponytail showing off her cheekbones that supported a sincere smile. She thanked the audience for being in attendance and then begged our pardon as she removed her heels. That is usually an indication that their is a mutual sense of comfort and we were in for a great performance unhindered by uncomfortable feet.
Ms. Blaire performed songs from her highly acclaimed project, Portraits of Me as well as a sultry mix of diverse holiday songs. Proclaiming, “Detroit, you make me feel special” before her set, it was only fitting for her to open her show with “Special” from her album. Next song was “Promise”, a Luther Vandross remake in honor of her mother who she recalls wearing out his tape. From there we received new material, “Something Great” and an infused reprise as she sang “I’m not scared anymore of being something great” with a bold confidence and a switch in her hips, which afterward she said she refrained from “dropping it like its hot” with children present.
Next was another remake, a symphonic and quaint rendition of Madonna’s “Material Girl”, something you wouldn’t expect from someone dressed like an R&B diva but it only proved a point that there is no box with Monica Blaire. The latter half of the show was full of holiday cheer as Monica sang Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmas Time Is Here” from A Charlie Brown Christmas, and “Someday at Christmas” by Stevie Wonder. She was accompanied by Brandon “Showtime” Bland on keys and LaDarrel “Saxappeal” Johnson on the saxophone and both were a great accompaniment to a delightful evening of feel good music. However, Monica Blaire decided to take the time out to acknowledge the reason for the season and take us to church with an a capella rendition of “His Eye Is On the Sparrow”. Then for a bittersweet end, “Silent Night” was the excellent choice, as she sang to the audience, “You are love. You are peace. You are joy. You are all of these things.” And this may seem cliche’ but I’m sure everyone who left the auditorium that evening felt the exact same way about Monica Blaire.