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.