Since she burst onto the music scene in 2012 with her debut album, Perfectly Imperfect featuring the bubbly single “Only Wanna Give It To You,” Elle Varner has proved that she belongs in the musical spotlight. Just when we thought we couldn’t adore this 25-year-old starlet any more than we already do, she appeared at her old stomping grounds: New York City’s popular B.B. King Blues Club & Grill on December 7th. Elle sang her heart out and gave us five more reasons to love her.
1. She’s Got Ellephants
It seems that every singer worth their salt in song also has a cute, quirky nickname for their fans. Tamar Braxton has her “Tamartians.” Marsha Ambrosius has her “Marshians.” Faith Evans has her “Faithfuls”… you get the drift, right? Right! Not to be outdone, Elle Varner has her very own…wait for it, wait for it… Ellephants! We don’t mind that the name conjures up images of large, tusk-adorned mammals. We’re Ellephants, dammit! And proud of it.
2. She’s a Sight to See on the Guitar
Actually, the guitar is just one of the instruments that the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter-producer is gifted at playing. Varner, who studied her craft at NYU’s Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, also plays flute, piano and drums. But to see Varner perform with her six-string is an experience. It’s nothing short of magical to watch her instantaneous metamorphosis from a sexy siren who effortlessly mesmerizes a crowd as she stands in front of a mic to a musical virtuoso as she grabs her guitar and perches atop a chair to perform “Leaf” and “Nothing.” Chalk it up to Elle’s quirky, creative ways that her fans have grown to love.
3. She’s A Giver
Varner loves her Ellephants – and she wants them to know it! When a woman in the audience joked that she was at the show with her man but he hadn’t “put a ring on it” as yet, Varner offered the fan a token of her understanding and appreciation—one of the rings she happened to be wearing for the evening! And when another covetous fan shouted that she wanted a ring as well, Varner did not hesitate to remove yet another ring from her hand and give it as well. Special, right? Well perhaps the fan who felt most special that evening was a young man by the name of Guy (but affectionately dubbed Guy Guy by Varner), who shouted that he wanted to join Varner onstage. Well Varner granted his wish by ushering the fella onstage, and then rewarding his boldness with yet another gift – a watch! Gotta love that.
4. She Knows What’s Going On
Perhaps the highlight of the evening – if not the most poignant – was Varner’s soulfully stirring performance of the Marvin Gaye classic “What’s Going On.” There’s been ongoing public outcry and call for change as a result of the Eric Garner and Mike Brown cases, and anyone who lives in New York City must be aware of and has experienced the folks who have taken to the streets to demonstrate and protest. Varner’s risque performance of the powerful song that Marvin Gaye shared with the world in 1971 was a sullen, yet refreshing reminder that as far as we’ve come, there’s room for improvement and work still to be done. And not for nothing, but she sang the song powerfully and beautifully. That’s what’s up.
5. She Thrives Under Pressure
Every performer’s nightmare is to have technical difficulties that mar a live performance. For Varner, her B.B. King performance proved to be the second one in a row during which the “sound snatchers” reared their ugly heads and caused hiccups in the L.A. native’s set. But, to her credit, Varner handled the tense situation like a trooper, and she effortlessly turned the bad situation into a lighthearted, hilarious one as she joked, “Is this a show or a relationship? Cause this shit is not working!” After the sound kinks were worked out, Varner shined brightly as she performed “Little Do You Know” and my favorite of the night, “F-ck It All” – perfectly seasoned with a little bit of Lauryn Hill’s “Reciprocity” and Alicia Keys “No One” for good measure. Like we said, we love Elle Varner.
[Photo: Shane Adams]