LIVE: Syleena Johnson at Blues Alley


I bet any amount of money that Syleena Johnson is probably your favorite singer’s favorite singer. There are not enough accolades I can come up with to describe Syleena Johnson’s performance at Blues Alley this past Saturday, but the ones that immediately come to mind are amazing, hilarious, and flat-out brilliant.

At one point early on in the show, she proclaimed to be “the baddest bitch on the planet,” and when she opened her mouth to sing (or talk, really), I had no problem believing such a bold statement. There was not one moment where her confidence wavered. It shone like an extra-bright beacon upon her adoring fans, as well as her equally-adoring band/background singers.

She performed songs from her newest album Chapter 5: Underrated, including the latest single, “A Boss,” and the soul-stirring duet “Little Things” with her impressive new artist Malone (who was also one of her excellent background singers).

I was doubled-over and near-tears the whole time from laughing so much at her jokes and mini-sermons. As if her bluesy, love-weary delivery weren’t enough to make me a true believer, Syleena went and pulled out a major trump card: she performed Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.” Now folks, you know just as well as I do that if you’re gonna have the nerve to attempt this, then you betta come correct. Well, not only did Syleena come correct, but I swear that if I had closed my eyes, I would have thought that none other than Tina Turner was up on that stage!!! She straight KILLED it! She even had the choreography down-pat.

Yes, Syleena may be “underrated” as her album’s new title not-so-subtly hints at, but for selfish reasons, I think I want her to stay underrated. I’m not gonna name names, but when it comes to pure vocal skills and stage presence, there are some soul/R&B divas in the game right now that are a little overrated and couldn’t hold one single solitary candle to Syleena. That being said, a little birdie told me that she MIGHT be coming back soon to the Birchmere. So IF that happens, y’all might wanna just go ‘head and do yourselves a favor and treat yourself to some REAL soulful entertainment.