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The 2016 Cincinnati Music Festival was LIT to the Max

The 2016 Cincinnati Music Festival was LIT to the Max

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Friday, July 21, 2016 – Proctor & Gamble brought us a stellar lineup and the show these artists provided did not disappoint. Judith Hill was the opening act and unfortunately, we missed her performance looking for adequate parking.  Next up was The Whispers and although this super soul group performs now as a trio, they are still a class act. They rocked the crowd with a celebrated medley of hits including; “In the Raw”, “Rock Steady”, and “In the Mood” to name a few. Next, Fantasia came on and lit the stage up with her crisp vocals and energetic dance moves. She looked great and sounded amazing as she wowed the crowd singing her hits, “Without Me”, “I’m Doing Me” and a hot-like-fire rendition on James Browns’ classic, “This is a Man’s World”. While she was not one of my favorite artists going into Paul Brown Stadium, after singing her face off, I surely left out a Fantasia Fan. Next was the reason I was so excited to attend the festival this year, Babyface. His set may have started out a little slow as he sang many of his early hits like; “Whip Appeal”, ‘It’s No Crime’, “Every Time I Close My Eyes” and “Soon As I Get Home From Work”. However, when The Face started a high-energy medley of all the songs he has penned for other artists, you quickly realize that this man is responsible for much of what was played on the radio during the ‘80’s and ‘90’s and that is where the show picked up. He ran through the crowd, much to the dismay of stage security but his genius was on display and the audience ate it all up. Much respect to Babyface for being the BEST kept secret of this festival. Then there was the nights closing act, New Edition and all I can say is after 33 years together, they each have still got it! While they still have the synchronized, smooth moves that make you sing and dance along to hits like; “Crucial”, “Hit Me Off”, “NE Heartbreak” and “If It Isn’t Love”, it was so cool to watch as they performed their latest grown folks hit, “This One’s For Me and You”. They also gave us tidbits from the spin-off acts of the group with jams from Ralph Tresvant, Johnny Gill and BBD. It was a super night of great music and good times that set the stage for the next night.

Saturday, July 22, 2016 – The opening act for night two of the Music Festival was The Deele. It was cool getting reacquainted with the group that helped to start Babyface’s career as they sang their hits; “Two Occasions”, “Body Talk” and “Shoot’em Up Movies”. Next was Leela James, most popular from her stint on TV One’s R&B Divas LA, she performed well. However, she did not win over the crowd as she spent just as much time chastising the audience for not rocking out to her satisfaction, as she did actually singing. While it was good to hear her songs; “Set Me Free” & “I’m Falling” and even a short tribute to Prince, she also succeeded in turning off many in the crowd around me. Ledisi graced the stage next and made all the bad energy of the act before disappear. Looking and sounding beautiful, she got up close and personal with the crowd as she sang a medley of her hits like; “Alright”, “Pieces of Me” and “Stay Together”. Next was Charlie Wilson. That man does not do a show like someone who has been in the business for over 35 years! Uncle Charlie killed it singing all his hits from his days in The Gap Band, and many of his recent hits as a solo artist. His energy level was off the charts as he matched his dancers step for step through each costume and groove change. Uncle Charlie commanded the crowd to turn on their phones and shine lights for the world to see our solidarity and the crowd obliged him, thus creating a beautiful 10 minute light show. It was an amazing sight. The closing act for the night was the legendary Frankie Beverly and Maze. After 30+ years the band still sounds good. Although it is visible that Frankie Beverly is close to retirement from live performance, the respect for the artistry is still visible through his fans. They sang along with him and jammed as the band played every Maze hit including; “After the Morning After”, Golden Time of the Day”, “Running Away”, “We Are One”  and of course, their signature cut “Happy Feelings”. Overall, I danced, sang, sweated and cheered until my throat was raw, proving that a weekend of great music is the best medicine for whatever ails you. Keep a watch out for my review of the festival next year July 28 & 29, 2017 as my annual Sistah’s Weekend will jump off in Cincinnati one more gin. Until Next time People….Peace, Love, and Smooches!

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Tracie Christian

July 30th, 2016

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