(Photo: Mychal Watts/WireImage)
This past weekend in Philly, the Global Fusion Festival took place and it was a treat for music lovers of all ages with performances from headliner Brandy, Music Matters artists Luke James, Elle Varner and Kendrick Lamar, old school R&B heartthrob Kenny Latimore and a slew of local acts.
When Luke James took the stage, he had a lot to show and prove to the audience who in large part was being exposed to his music for the first time. Opening with an abridged cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” it was clear that it wouldn’t take long for the crooner to win the crowd over. He sang “Guilty Pleasure” from his #LUKE pre-album, debuted a new song about the ups and downs of love titled “Just Might Die” and closed his set with his signature hit, “I Want You.” Currently, he’s putting the finishing touches on his debut album, Made to Love and he told us that “Just Might Die” sets the tone of the album. “Basically what I’m doing, the body of work is just going to be cross genres. I like to think of it as an alternative twist on R&B. Soulful, very bright, very dark and very emotional.”
Songbird Elle Varner hit the stage with a plethora of younger female fans screaming and waiting to sing along with every lyric that she’s ever penned. The crowd went crazy when Elle sang “Only Wanna Give It to You” and showed signs of girl power when everyone sang along to “So Fly.” Her voice rang out loud and clear and showcased a young woman who won’t ever have to lean on Auto-Tune to define her. She told BET.com that her sound and the feel of her upcoming album Perfectly Imperfect is “yesterday and tomorrow, today.” She also commented on how happy she is with the current state of R&B. “You have artists like Frank Ocean, Luke James, myself, Bridget Kelly, Melanie Fiona are really up and coming and changing the meaning of R&B, the impact of R&B and making it current for today, so that’s really exciting.”
Global Fusion Festival headliner Brandy opened with “Full Moon” and “What About Us” while doing hard-hitting choreography completely in sync with her two back-up dancers. She hit the crowd with throwback hits “Best Friend” and “I Wanna Be Down,” went on to sing “The Boy Is Mine” and “Almost Doesn’t Count,” then closed her set with her current single that’s crawling up the charts, “Put It Down” featuring Chris Brown.
Brandy’s plan is to release her upcoming album, Two Eleven, on October 2, 2012. The title has a dual meaning because it’s her birthday and the day that her idol and inspiration, Whitney Houston, passed away. Two Eleven will showcase Brandy at her best with tracks assisted by Bangladesh, Ester Dean, Sean Garrett and Frank Ocean. Although her music is coming first right now, that doesn’t mean that acting is on the backburner. As far as balancing her music and acting on BET’s The Game she said, “Well, I think because I’m born to do this the balance happens naturally.” She continued, “Plus, when you’ve been away for a long time and you’ve had a long hiatus then the understanding is a little better because it’s time to get out there and work, ya know?”
Let’s just say that it’s good to have Brandy back and even better to know that R&B is anything but dead.
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