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Ledisi’s band, dressed in black, stood on stage, relaxed and confident, quietly fine tuning instruments awaiting the onstage arrival of their boss. You can tell a lot about the show you’re about to witness by the expressions of the band members, moments before the show begins, in much the same way as you can a sports team, seconds before the whistle starts the game. Ledisi’s band knew, as doubtless they had known throughout this North American tour, that their boss was going to kill it. They exuded the cool confidence of a team at the top of the table, with plenty of party tricks up their sleeve to thrill and heat up the vacuous 42nd St. subterranean supper club in the midst of well scheduled Christmas snowstorm.

Ledisi strode confidently to mic as the band played the opening bars of “Think Of You” and from the moment her strong soulful tones wrapped themselves around the spirited melody, it was evident that we were in for a night serious, highest echelon singing...or rather sangin’.

Undoubtedly one of the hardest working women in show business today, Ledisi has developed an on stage persona of a school mistress and next door neighbor all in one. On one hand you were afraid to offend (in this case audience members who were caught snapping photos were chastised from the stage) whilst on the other we cheered and empathized with her sermonizing and personal trials and triumphs (“I felt like givin’ up. They said I couldn’t make it if I wasn’t a size two and didn’t have a perm”) and through it all there was that powerhouse, soul drenched remarkable instrument of a voice that was able to scat, turn phrases on a dime, and switch effortlessly between keys and octaves like a high end sports car responds to merest suggestion of pressure by the foot.

She strolled through her song book with the band catering to her every whim, with the practiced ease of a group of musicians who live on the road. A flick of the wrist elicited an immediate swell of background harmonies, a impromptu improvised jazz scat had the band change gears and follow suit. The only guest was singer Justin Gregory who duetted with Ledisi on “Open Your Eyes”. Favorites from “Lost And Found” such as “In Love With My Best Friend” and “In The Morning” (stretched out to include some eulogizing on why women allow themselves to be used) gave way to a few Christmas classics culled and revamped with jazzy, soulful embellishments galore, from her new album “It’s Christmas”: “Wonderful World”, Silent Night”, and “Have Yourselves A Merry Little Christmas”. However, my favorite was “Children Go Where I Send Thee” a scorching, driving funk gospel affair that needs to be experienced in the live setting.

There was no coming down from here, Ledisi was feeling the spirit, getting emotional and her performance had taken flight and stayed in the ether for “Someday”, the vibrant “Thank You” and album standout, “Alright”. My only question was how could she repeat all of this for the night’s second show that was due to begin in under an hour?

About the Writer
Jeff Lorez has enjoyed a long and varied career in the music business. As a journalist he has written for a slew of publications and web sites including, Blues & Soul, Billboard, and the Daily Telegraph and as a music publisher he has been involved in recent chart topping hits by Alexis Jordan and Cher Lloyd.

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