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JOE
Sunday 08/09
JOE @ The Howard Theatre
$39.50 / $45
In retrospect of looking back over the past twenty years, R&B Superstar JOE Thomas crosses BRIDGES. The crooner’s new Album clearly defines his new outlook on life’s relationships and where they have taken him. Why “BRIDGES”? - “ We build them, cross them, burn them, then soon realize how much we need them” - JOE “Relationships are Bridges and at some point in life we must take full responsibility for where we have allowed those relationships to take us. Most important, what relationships or BRIDGES are we building, crossing into or burning?” The Album is described as therapeutic and open. “I must confess I’ve had my share of girls in my lifetime – honestly I’ve been on the wildest rides and maybe I should slow it down” are the opening lines of the Album’s introduction single – ‘LOVE & SEX’ PT. 2 which features the beautiful KELLY ROWLAND of Destiny’s Child and X-Factor fame. The single is widely and well received at Urban AC radio and video (directed by veteran director Bille Woodroof) with a strong reminiscence of the SOS Band days. Part one featured American Idol Fantasia and was featured on the singer’s 2013 Album release Double Back, (Evolution of R&B) which debuted #1 on the Billboard R&B charts and #6 on Billboard Top 200. When asked why the choice of Kelly over Fantasia, the R&B singer is very adamant that there is and never was a choice per say or comparison in his mind between the two. “Both are equally talented and beautiful”. If I had to describe in keeping with the concept of BRIDGES, (think of it this way), every major bridge has different levels or entrances when going across them. Your choice depends on the direction your going in. Both Kelly and Fantasia were necessary because I needed to go into two different directions for this particular song. I won’t call it a journey. That is for people to decide. I will say that it is heartfelt and relatable to past or present circumstances for any listener who embarks on BRIDGES. It is uplifting, fun and thought provoking. The biggest comment for those that I have played Bridges for is that one, you never feel like you have to skip over a particular song and that each song is enjoyable or as they say, “it reminds me of when I ….” That blank has been filled in some pretty amazing things. Songs like “Sex Ain’t A Weapon” hits hard with its strong ¾ shuffle beat reminiscent of Marvin keeps you grooving on the subject matter for the woman who chooses to hold back or deprive her man lovin’ when she feels like playing the mute game of making it easy to turn off her desire or quench his thirst for sex. Joe charismatically states “A queen B should never hold back the Honey…not later but sooner girl you’ll hear the rumor that other fish been swimming around in your sea. That’s why You Can’t Use Sex As a Weapon”. Then there’s the sure fire nostalgic Ballad entitled, If You Lose Her. I mean what would a JOE album be without one or several ballads (which he has not and never fails to deliver). The song makes JOE a spokesman for us guys to think about the consequence When Joe surveyed the landscape of modern R&B, the award-winning artist didn’t necessarily like much of what he saw. So with DoubleBack: The Evolution of R&B, the accomplished singer-songwriter-producer brings the music he loves back to its roots. “I’m going back to that old school feel, back to the elegance and class of what R&B represented back in the day,” Joe explains of his tenth studio album. “You look at the pictures from that era and they represent something very stoic. They’re beautiful photos, beautiful moments, beautiful memories. I want to get back to the beginnings of it, the humbleness of it, the way it was before with real stars, real celebrities, real entertainers who actually wrote a lot of their music and performed it with great intensity and passion. That’s what the essence of The Evolution of R&B is all about.” Classic R&B also told memorable stories, something Joe is keenly aware of. That’s why DoubleBack: The Evolution of R&B follows Joe through his search for true love. Joe kicks his new LP off with the gorgeous “I’d Rather Have A Love.” Accented by soothing guitar, finger snaps and lush harmonizing, the song traces the evolution of a man who goes from woman to woman into a man who realizes the power, joy and value of finding a woman he loves. As the album progresses, though, Joe takes a number of detours. On “Magic City,” for instance, he looks for love in all the wrong places. With the eyebrow-raising “Baby,” he details how he’s in love with two women at the same time. Then there’s “Mary Jane,” a mid-tempo tune that serves as a metaphor for having someone that releases all the stress and pressure of life. Showing the duality of life, he details the other side of a relationship on “Walk Away,” where he deals with the haters in his realm. Elsewhere, Joe finds his match on “Love And Sex,” an impassioned duet with Fantasia. Here, the two talented singers go back and forth about the wide range of emotions they’re feeling toward one another. “We’re going to town,” Joe says. “We’re emulating the feelings and the emotions of the difference between love and sex. It’s very classic and feels like something you’ve heard before. It has beautiful, touching lyrics and a beautiful story, too.” Beyond the rich storylines and dynamic storytelling, what makes DoubleBack: The Evolution of R&B remarkable is that Joe played all the instruments on the tracks he produced. In addition to having a more intimate relationship with the music, Joe decided to play his own bass, drums, guitar, and piano to show other artists how live instrumentation brings an extra element to music. “I think it’s important the younger generation sees more of that,” he explains. “They rely too much on just mechanical things, like synthesizers, beat machines. Picking up and using an instrument can change the whole mood of everything. Anytime I play around the house or on stage, it’s a completely different vibe, a different zone that I’m in. It’s really nice to expand yourself if you’re an artist, to branch out and be more than just a singer and a dancer.”
Goapele
Thursday 07/09
Goapele @ The Howard Theatre
$29.50 / $35
Goapele (pronounced gwa-puh-lay), which means “to move forward” in Setswana has been doing just that, moving forward and making her presence felt in the music industry since 2001 as an American soul and R&B singer/songwriter. She is currently gearing up for the release of her new album “Strong As Glass” on October 21st, 2014 featuring her single Hey Boy. Produced by Keith Harris, known for hits like “Meet Me Halfway” (Black Eyed Peas) and “American Boy” (Estelle) and a collaborative songwriting process, which included Estelle, Hey Boy is a fun, summer track with an up-tempo, flirty retro vibe that makes you want to dance. The new album Strong As Glass is being released on BMG Primary Wave / Skyblaze Recordings, and will be Goapele’s fourth studio album. She worked closely with executive producer Keith Harris, who helped push the songstress creatively, which you hear throughout the dynamic project. She also worked with R&B veteran Eric Benet and producer Demonte Posey to finish this genre-bending record. There are upbeat tracks mixed with powerful ballads, hard-hitting drums, classic Goapele vocals and even a duet with one of R&B’s top artists. Goapele’s upbringing in her hometown of Oakland, California combined with ethnic influences from her South African father and New York-born Israeli Jewish mother have created a unique artist with a passion for her music and her community. Once called the “spiritual love child of Sade and D’Angelo” by Rolling Stone magazine, Goapele has both a sensuous and serious voice that is making a difference in the music world by blending genres including jazz, soul, and hip-hop, infused with her own poetry. Following her time getting an education at Berklee College of Music, Goapele debuted her musical talent with a self-released album Closer in 2001. At its peak, Closer was #63 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. This would not be her only taste of the Billboard ranks. In 2004, her first nationally distributed album, Even Closer, reached #24 on the Billboard Charts for Top Independent Albums. Her other Billboard accolades include her 2006 album, Change it All, which was both #32 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album chart and #2 on the Top Heatseekers, while the single “First Love” reached #18 on the Hot Adult R&B Airplay. Goapele’s last album release in 2011, Break of Dawn, is her most diverse and exciting project to date. The music includes sophisticated songs revolving around love, loss, and all of life in between. “I came into this business as a young woman who wanted to be taken seriously for my music, but, now I’m more willing to share my sexiness as well. I realize that it’s possible to be both complex and provocative,” Goapele says. By collaborating with an array of creative folks including Kerry “Krucial” Brothers, Bobby Ozuma, Malay and Bedrock, this is also the first project Goapele has worked with other songwriters. Break of Dawn reveals many experiences that define Goapele, from the birth of her daughter, to tragic losses. Throughout her career Goapele has appeared on several well-known shows like Soul Train, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and has been praised in many prestigious magazines such as Rolling Stone, Nylon, Billboard, Essence and Vibe. Goapele has also proven to be a savvy businesswoman. She is a UNIQLO ambassador and is part of the UNIQLO campaign, which is a clothing company designed for people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, etc., as well as members of all communities and social groups. Perhaps, her most endearing quality is her constant work with the community to give back to people in need. She has performed at rallies, demonstrations, and various political events around the world. In 2006 the California-based Ella Baker Center for Human Rights honored her with its first ever Human Rights Cultural Hero Award. Goapele’s love and passion for the world pours out into her music and her “smoky and sensual” voice, as described by Billboard magazine, is sure to make your day.