Live Performance Review – Meshell Ndegeocello

Meshell

I was so excited when I learned that Ms. Ndegeocello was coming back to Atlanta to perform at this year’s Atlanta Jazz Festival in Piedmont Park, that I just couldn’t miss the opportunity to catch her live.  I have been a huge fan of this dynamic artist since her 1993 debut, “Plantation Lullabies”.  What a cool and super talented Sista!  That album was groundbreaking and I felt so fortunate to have discovered it back then.

Fast forward to Saturday’s performance.  I have been warned by others who have gone to her show that she doesn’t really revisit her older music.  This is to the dismay of many longtime fans due to Meshell’s desire as an artist to showcase where she is now.  Keeping that in mind, I was prepared that she probably wouldn’t perform some of my favorites from her like, “If That’s Your Boyfriend”, “Dred Loc”, “Outside your Door”, “Soul on Ice”, “Fool of Me”, “Bitter”, and “The Way”, just to name a few.  I kept an open mind upon arriving at the park for her show.  Boy, was I pleasantly surprised.  A lot of the music she did perform was a homage to Nina Simone from her most recent album, “Pour Une Ame Souveraine”.  Meshell performed these songs with such respect and love for Ms. Simone’s body of work.  She made the songs her own, however, she didn’t take way Ms. Simone’s essence from them.  My absolute favorite from this set was “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”.  Her version of “Feelin’ Good” was a fresh and haunting take of this popular Simone song.  I absolutely loved it.  Her entire set was very engaging.  Her voice was smooth and surprisingly mellow, based on the large crowd and the frequent coming, going and expected distractions in a venue like this.  Her voice captured you even amongst the sea of people at the festival.  She certainly drew you in with it.  Of course her bass playing couldn’t be denied.  Excellent as usual.

Seeing her here at the Festival was not long enough, of course.  Next time she comes to town,  I will definitely check her out.  After seeing her I left feeling that I must experience one of her live shows where she is headlining.   I must admit I hadn’t kept up with Meshell’s independent work in recent years.  She has made appearances on other artist’s work that I listen to here and there and I have caught those.  Of course, she never disappoints as a featured artist.  I feel now that I have to revisit Meshell and get reacquainted with the beauty that is her music.  Such talent and artistry cannot be denied.  Simply put, I didn’t realize how much I missed her.

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