Ledisi made it onto my radar late in the game, but it’s been a love at first listen ever since! We do all kinds of things for the sake of love, so I thought almost nothing of the brisk and rainy weather I braved on Wednesday to see Ledisi perform at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. I knew it would be worth it, and I was right. From the moment she strutted onto the stage to perform the single “That Good Good” off her seventh album, The Truth, Ledisi showcased an undeniable confidence and vibrancy that lit up the Beacon for the entire evening. The “Truth” theme for the night -and the 29-city tour- was solidified with her second song “Bravo,” featuring the lyrics: See it’s the same pretty woman with a brand new style/Same Ledisi but she ain’t walkin’ she flying/A new day making big moves. We were witnessing the same Ledisi we’ve always adored, only bolder and better.
After a ridiculously quick wardrobe change, Ledisi returned to the stage decked out in black leather-look leggings and matching black motorcycle jacket replete with silver chains for her third song, “Rock With You.” As Ledisi danced, at one point even flipping her lengthy locs back and forth with reckless abandon and loads of bravado, it was clear that Ledisi was in love with life – and also with herself. But as she shared during her show, it has taken some serious trials, and serious time, for her to get there. And so just like that, the show was elevated and transformed from not just an entertaining concert (well worth the price of admission), but a platform for sharing, connecting and teaching.
It was wonderful to see actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant, Essence Editor-At-Large Mikki Taylor, and BET Networks Chairman and CEO Debra Lee show their support of Ledisi by way of a video in which they each shared their thoughts on what the “Truth” embodies in their lives. Ledisi shared that for her, “the ‘Truth’ means not having to explain who you are… It feels good, feels free.” We all went to that free and good place with Ledisi as she performed some of the songs that have earned her an ever-growing legion of fans throughout her 15-year career- “Higher Than This”, “Goin’ Thru Changes”, “Stay Together” (feat. Jaheim), “In the Morning”, “Alright” and “Anything”.
Ledisi “the singer” was put on pause momentarily as Ledisi “the performer” showed up and showed off three quarters of the way through the show. Flanked by her two dancers and two backup singers, she exuded charisma and sex appeal as she showed off her “walk with a wiggle” and schooled the ladies by “knowing” that men love strong, confident women and a lady who knows how to walk. “Your walk is your insurance,” she intimated. “Never lose your walk. Because when he starts acting up, you start walking…” The gems that dropped during the concert got deeper as Ledisi shared the three things she learned when she first came to New York many years ago to live out her dreams of being a singer, and found herself “sleeping on the floor.” She had our full attention as she shared her three life truths: 1. Have faith. 2. Love yourself. 3. Be careful of who and what you allow in your personal circle, because not everyone deserves your presence.
After the “life lessons,” Ledisi delivered her eclectic musical stylings as only she can. Donning a blue beaded gown, she radiated beauty. Not only does Ledisi have a wealth of experiences, but she knows how to scat like you wouldn’t believe! Old-school scat, new-school scat, old-school mixed with new-school scat- Ledisi enjoyed every moment of what she gave us, which I didn’t think could get any better. That is, until opening act Robert Glasper came back onstage to perform his song with Ledisi off his Grammy-winning Black Radio album, “Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B.).” For her song “Pieces of Me” Ledisi came off the stage and into the crowd, all the while teasing her fans, “What? I’m not scared of you, New York!” The songstress’ launched into a performance of “Alright,” a song that takes its title from the comforting assurances of her mother, said during trying times when she doubted would ever “make it.” In case you were wondering, it was more than alright. It was the “Truth.”
After 15 years, seven albums, eight Grammy nominations, and one coveted role as Mahalia Jackson in the upcoming Oprah Winfrey-produced movie about the life of Martin Luther King, Selma, Ledisi has arrived.
For more info on Ledisi’s “The Truth” Tour go to www.ledisi.com.
[Photo: Verve Music Group]