On May 28th-29th (Memorial Day Weekend), a sold-out crowd of 5,300 watched three-time Grammy Award-winning songstress Lalah Hathaway at the 2016 ATL Soul Life Music Fest. She took the already-hyped audience on an enchanting musical journey with “Something,” a song that won her a first Grammy on her feature with Snarky Puppy. The mutual energy exchange between herself and her fans continued on the journey which included a cover of Anita Baker’s hit single “Angel”, the inspirational ballad, “Mirror”, and her moving interpretation of her legendary dad’s “Little Ghetto Boy” – all from her 2015-released Lalah Hathaway LIVE! album.
Earlier, the event’s tone was set by the evening’s host, Comedian Griff (V-103, B.E.T.’s Comic View, Get Up! Mornings with Erica Campbell) and four finalists competing for two $5,000 checks courtesy of McDonald’s “The Gift ATL”. Grammy Nominated artist and reality-TV star, Syleena Johnson was the first artist to enrapture music lovers with her infectious vocals, commanding stage presence, and Prince t-shirt. Johnson took attendees through her body of work with “I Am Your Woman” and “All Falls Down” as well as her take on the late five-time Grammy Award winning legend Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby”. DJ Daddy Dre kept the audiences on their feet in between sets on both days.
Grammy and NAACP Image Award-nominated singer-songwriter Anthony David delighted the crowd with his hit song, “Words” feat. India Arie and May-released single, “Beautiful Problem” with those raspy vocals that fans continually yearn for. With the festival being held in Atlanta, GA, it was “natural” for Algebra to join him on stage for “4Evermore.” Despite the festival being Grammy Nominated & Billboard charting Eric Roberson’s first gig since his paternity leave, he worked the stage and those vocals as if there hadn’t been a break. The beloved Erro did not disappoint his fans as he held those long notes in “Dealing” feat. Lalah Hathaway from Music Fan First (2013) and the upbeat “Change for Me” from his The Vault Vol. 1.5 (2004) studio album.
Not to be upstaged, day #2 (Sunday, May 29th) saw over 4,800 enjoy the line-up that was kicked off by the talented and critically acclaimed Rahsaan Patterson. He musically wove through his set with “Spend the Night” and “Where Are You” from his 1997 debut album. As with several of his peers, over the weekend, he paid homage to Prince with his cover of “Pop Life” from the 1985 album, Around the World in a Day, which had reached #7 on the US charts. Goapele brought extra sunrays to the stage, with her contagious smile and mic as she sang “Closer,” the classic title track from her debut album. The transparent songstress musically caressed the audience with “Strong as Glass” through her vulnerable and relatable lyrics. “I’m only strong as glass | They say I’m built to last, but I could break | … I’m only strong as glass, and I am all I have so if I break | There’s no more…” The musical sunrays kept beaming when Singer-songwriter-pianist Avery*Sunshine followed suit with her set which included “Call My Name”. Attendees sang along to the song from her sophomore album, The Sunroom, which had made its debut at #49 on Billboard ‘s Hot 100 R&B/ Hip -Hop Chart in 2014. Also from her second album “See You When I Get There”, as always, served as a reminder to attendees that differing paths are “okay” while her cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Daydreaming” held the audience captive.
Grammy-nominated and Billboard charting artist Angie Stone did her thang with “No More Rain” from her Black Diamond (1999) album, and had her brothas, in attendance, stand as she lifted them up with…well, “Brotha” (Mahogany Soul, 2001). Returning for the second year, the beloved duo Kindred the Family Soul closed out the two-day festival in musical style. Of course, they sang their recently released single “All My People” as well as their hit songs, “Far Away” and “Stars” – both from their 2003 debut album, Surrender to Love – and “Where Would I Be” from their second album In This Life Together (2006). As the world continues to mourn, Kindred the Family Soul and several of their festival-mates musically saluted our beloved Prince.
Behind-the-scenes, it was like a family reunion – always a hug and kiss being shared – between musical peers, the wonderful and supportive media, industry folks, Wolf Creek Amphitheater and related staffers, and the forward-thinking co-producers that gave a simple thought magnanimous life.
Check out the pictures below!
Anthony David and Algebra Photo Credit: InDaHouse Media/Jerome Dorn
Comedian Griff Photo Credit: InDaHouse Media/ Jerome-Dorn
Crowd Shot, Courtesy of ConnectingYOUto PR Firm
Huffington Post and Goapele – FU interview – Photo Cred: ConnectingYOUTo PR Firm
The Robert Glasper Experiment Photo Credit – Robin Lori Photography
V103 – Photo Credit: ConnectingYOUto PR Firm