R&B music has enjoyed a remarkable resurgence as of late thanks to artists like Donell Jones, Raheem DeVaughn, Avant, Lyfe Jennings, Monifah, and Erica Campbell, who came together Sunday, August 4th at the Central Park Summerstage to perform in the WBLS R&B Fest. And what a show it was!
The free concert brought out masses of R&B music lovers to Central Park for 4 hours worth of good times that were hosted by WBLS on-air personalities Fred “Bugsy” Buggs and Deja Vu. As people populated the concert area and got in where they could fit in, celebrity mixmaster Dee Whiz kept the vibe right and anticipation high. A surprise pre-show set by R&B rockstars Hi-Five (“I Like the Way”), Jeff Redd (“You Called and Told Me”), and Meli’sa Morgan (“Do Me Baby”) brought back memories for those R&B lovers who lived in up and partied lovely in the ’90s.
Lyfe Jennings took the stage next and performed his new single, “Boomerang,” and his hit song “Must Be Nice,” navigating the stage like a man with boundless energy to give away to his welcoming fans. Donell Jones kept the cheers coming as he performed several songs, including the crowd fave “U Know What’s Up” and “Forever” off his new album. Avant gave a heartfelt shout out to R&B legend Marvin Gaye during his performance—”Give it up for Marvin Gaye. This is what real soul music is!”—and worked the crowd on the smoothed-out tip with songs like “Don’t Know How.” It was nothing but love for Monifah, who sounded and looked amazing as she belted out “I Miss U” as well as a new single, “Invincible.” It was a tweetable moment when surprise guest Tweet took to the stage and performed “Oops (Oh My).”
Erica Campbell of Mary Mary had her time on the Central Park stage for the second day in a row and did not miss a beat as she blessed the crowd and sang “A Little More Jesus” from her solo release, as well as Mary Mary faves “God In Me” and “Go Get It.” By the time Raheem DeVaughn took to the stage, the show was already over 3 hours in, but he made everyone reach deep for that second wind as he sang “Love Connection” and took it where only R&B artists know where to go. Raheem claimed the night as he dropped to his knees, belted out lyrics while immersed in the crowd, and let everyone know that R&B music is that music that just keeps giving it up, and taking you there.
[Photo Credit: Shabazz Ray]