Faith Evans made her debut in 1995 with her self-titled album, which is now a classic from the era of ‘90s R&B. Over 15 years later, the former first lady of Bad Boy Records is still a force in the music industry. The Newark, New Jersey, native is known for songs like "Soon as I Get Home," "All Night Long," her top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit "Love Like This" and the Grammy winning "I'll Be Missing You" with Diddy. Saturday night's performance at the iconic Apollo Theatre proved her vocals — coupled with undeniable soul — are more powerful than ever.
Presented by Mary Flowers Entertainment, the opening act included the up-and-coming Luke James, who was nominated for Best New Artist at the 2012 Soul Train Awards. The New Orleans native, who wrote for Beyoncé and Chris Brown, quickly won over the audience with cataclysmic vocals and a liberating stage presence. Luke’s epic vocal range tore through a cover of Ready for the World's "Love You Down" and his hit single "I Want You." It would be a pop culture injustice if Luke James doesn't become a household name.
An ageless Tank hit the stage and easily made the ladies swoon with "Maybe I Deserve" and "Please Don't Go." But the most memorable moment was during "Emergency" — he shouted out women in the audience who didn't have a man to pay for their hair and nails. One woman claimed her weave cost $250 — Tank handed her $250 in cash. With Luke James and Tank warming up the Apollo, the crowd was ready for some estrogen.
Faith Evans opened with 2002's "Burnin' Up" and belted out other classics like "I Love You," "You Used to Love Me" and "Never Gonna Let You Go." As a surprise to the audience, Lil' Cease rocked the Apollo for a tribute to the legendary Notorious B.I.G., Faith's former husband. Cease performed a medley of songs: "Player's Anthem," "Gettin' Money (The Get Money Remix)" and Lil' Kim's "Crush on You" (minus Kim, of course).
The best moment of the night was a soul-stirring rendition of Faith's 1995 power ballad "Come Over." She roared out notes that channeled the likes of the late, great Etta James and Phyllis Hyman. Evans appeared to be possessed by the music, sweating and stomping around the stage. A man behind me said in obvious awe, "Now that is what you call sangin'!" Vocally, Faith Evans is widely underrated — she is arguably the greatest female vocalist to come out of ‘90s R&B.
Through more than a few sound issues and one excited fan hoping on stage asking for a hug, Faith made it clear why she was not a hot flash in the ‘90s R&B pan. Through tragedy, controversy and, most important, the music, Faith Evans is a survivor, delivering the guts and soul of a woman who has lived.
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(Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images)