The first time I remember going to what would be considered an “alternative folk” show, it was featuring Emily King. While she had already put out and received high accolades for her East Side Story album, and even a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary R&B Album of the Year, there was something about her music that you just KNEW set her apart from the rest. Now a few years later, on her own and doing the damn thing (if I might just interject my personal opinion), King has continued to prove that you don’t have to fit into any particular genre for people to like you. How does she continue to do it? She takes venues like Le Poisson Rouge in NYC, romantic atmospheres with dim lighting and table seating, good wine and adding two amazing ladies, Jennah Bell and Margaret Glaspy, to her bill, sings and plays her guitar to her heart’s content. That is how you have a successful show. That is how you create your space for people to enter.
Margaret Glaspy may be the first opener for a show (I’ve ever experienced) to receive not only a standing ovation, but a request to come back and do an encore. This Cali native, now NYC based singer is beautiful on the strings and her voice is…well…different (in a good way of course). Performing tracks from her HOMESCHOOL EP, as well as some of her bonus released on Soundcloud such as “You’re Smiling But I Don’t Believe You” and “Cynthia”, Glaspy opened the show with style and grace. Her most memorable moment of the night was her rendition of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor”, which received an overwhelming response from the audience. There was not a dry eye or a seated person when she finished her performance. Glaspy is an amazing performer and I have no doubt that you will be hearing of this gem in years to come.
My love for Jennah Bell knows no bounds. From the first time that I saw her perform with the Strivers Row, to each show she’s ripped since in NYC, Bell’s eclectic voice and love to music continues to hold a place in my heart and ears. With the support of her family and fellow Strivers, as well as artists such as Jesse Boykins III, MTV’s Sway, and fellow supporters of the Jennah Bell movement, Bell stepped on stage and staked claim on NYC that night. Singing songs such as “The Hatchet” and “Black Sheep” from her highly recognized Early Bird EP, Bell took the night into another realm. To top off her performance, she introduced a new song, “Can’t Have You”, which will be featured on her next project. Musical geniuses such as Bell always know how to leave their mark. Performing her rendition of Gwen Stefani’s “Luxurious”, which elegantly led into Notorious B.I.G’s “Big Poppa”, Bell also received a standing ovation from the audience and exuberant cheers for an encore. Bell is someone you should definitely watch out for in the future. It might explain why she was named one of BET’s Music Matters artists.
The headliner for the evening and closing performer, Emily King, knows exactly how to end a night with a bang. As stated earlier, King has an ability to do her thing and do it very well. Creating her own lane and not allowing anyone to pigeon hole her style, King has evolved from the young lady we knew years ago. Performing mostly tracks from her project Seven, King knew just what it would take to make sure no one in the audience left unsatisfied. Rocking her most popular hits from that project such as “Georgia” and “Down”, onlookers were able to have an intimate relationship with the artist as they sang the words of the song with her. In addition, she also covered a classic “Don’t Ask My Neighbors” by The Emotions, and even engaged the audience. For you to have missed the moment where she even recognized her mom and grandmother, who are huge supporters of her music and live shows, would have been a tragedy. The look in their eye of complete happiness as they watched their next generation set a new mark for herself was a sight to see. King has what it takes to be a force to be reckoned with. She proves it every time she steps on stage.
Good music isn’t that hard to find. You just have to know where to look. Maybe outside of the radio and mainstream websites that focus on what is considered “popular”. You might be surprised by the gems you find.