So, by now you know if you were not at the Landers Center (formerly DeSoto Civic Center) in Southaven, Miss. Last Sunday night (Mar. 3) you missed a fabulous show!
The long-awaited return of Mary J. Blige to the Mid-South has been the talk all over locals' Facebook pages, Instagram, Twitter, the workplace, and even at my son's school.
For sure we proved our admiration for her with the sold-out show. Days before the concert, seats were even made available behind the stage for those who wanted in on the jammin'.
If you are familiar with going to a show at The Landers Center, then you know that part of the experience are the traffic jams you encounter on the way to your exciting event. Sunday stuck to script, with carpool plans just as much a part of the evening's blueprint as the outfit for the night.
Now, I would love to jump right in and just tell you how great Mary J. Blige was, but let me slow down a bit for the first-timers.
Of course, when catching a concert, there are the basics: the excitement of mingling, checking out the vendors, people watching, fun, food and friends. I had the opportunity to settle in a suite for a little mingling before jetting to catch the show.
The line-up before "The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul" was on point!
The night began with V101's Stan Bell welcoming the audience and then introducing the strikingly beautiful New York native Bridget Kelly. I enjoyed the Grammy-award winning songwriter/ singer on multiple levels, taking particular note of her performances on album bangers "In the Morning" and "Special Delivery."
By the way, Kelley's signed to Roc Nation Jay Z's Label. (OMG She is!) She paints pictures with piercing words and you can't help getting lost in the story she tells. The New Yorker showed Memphis what she was made of, for sure!
Up next was a side-splitting good time with comedian/impressionist and musician Jay Lamont. The man gives an on-point (too on point?) impersonation of several musical greats and President Obama. Mixeing surges of comedy with a splash of impressions, Lamont flashed why many know him as "The Ultimate Entertainer!"
With the audience all-tuned up for Anthony Hamilton, the Memphis favorite did not disappoint, giving a true get-out-of-your-seat performance. People were dancing like they were in a cardio work out session as he performed some of his greatest. Some unforgettable moments were the performances of "Ain't to Proud to Beg," and his new single "Pray For Me" – another hit from his latest album, "Woo," a feel-good, up-tempo ode to a woman.
Mary J. Blige has plenty of hardware befitting her superstar status – eight multi-platinum albums and nine Grammy Awards. When she hit the stage, loyal fans embraced her pure, unadulterated and empowering presence with screams for the "Queen."
If you're a true Mary fan, then you know the compilations of her albums are like a journey through all of her growing pains – the ups and downs. Her hit records offer reflections into her often-dark past, along with what some might view as crystal-ball like glimpses into her future.
And her live concert performance is no different! She manages to take you on a quick trip into her life. That's been Mary J. Blige's calling card ever since her 1992 multi-platinum debut album, "What's the 411?"
At the Landers Center, Blige radiated like a living legend to the sold-out crowd. With each album and every performance it seems she just continues to develop.
"I know who I am and what I can do," says Blige. "With each album, it's just me continuing to grow."
(For more information on all the artists above, visit www.bridgetkelly.com; www.jamminjaylamont.net; www.anthony hamilton.com; www.maryjblige.com)