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Triple Star Sound Stage DC presented a most enjoyable concert at Cramton Auditorium on the campus of Howard University last Saturday night, featuring Vivian Green and Chico DeBarge. The enthusiastic audience was greeted by the charismatic hostess Micheline Bowman who welcomed us to the venue and brought Mr. DeBarge to the stage.

Casually dressed in a plain white tee and jeans, topped off with a stylish fedora, he began by acknowledging his roots. He asked who remembered the group, Switch. Given the audience demographic, the response was not immediate, until he explained that this older brothers Bobby (who passed away in 1995) and Tommy were group members. Then he launched into an a capella version of “I Call Your Name”, which was truly a test. Baby brother passed with flying colors, reaching into his falsetto, and eventually had the audience singing along.

Chico concentrated on songs from his Long Time No See CD from 1997, starting with the cool and sexy “Love Still Good,” followed by the jazzy “Iggin’ Me”. By the time he got to “Virgin” (just for the touch of it…) the crowd was in his complete control. Vocally, Chico’s tenor was strong and passionate. Next he went to the keyboard and set up the intro of the DeBarge classic “I Like It”. Once again he showed off the family tradition with a sparkling falsetto matching El’s high notes. Impressive.

Chico closed his too-short set out with “No Guarantees” and “Superman”. It would have been cool to hear a few more songs, especially from last year’s phenomenal Addiction CD. Overall, his show was inspiring. He is a talented showman with a sensual style.

Philadelphia native Vivian Green graced the stage next in a sexy off-the shoulder blouse and tight black pants. Her silver baubles and necklace were radiant. What a beautiful woman she is. At the pre-show press event, she confessed her shyness in a room full of writers and photographers, but once she hit the stage (as she promised), she was another person. Her first song, “Too Intense”, was from her most recent CD, Beautiful. It is an up-tempo jam that got her show started in a dynamic way. Vocally, she was very strong, belying her petite frame. She followed with “Save Me” from the same CD, with a slight reggae beat. Next up was “24 Hour Blues” and “Superwoman”, two songs from her debut CD, A Love Story.

Vivian had a very relaxed rapport with the audience. She talked about her first recording which included a song she wrote with Eric Roberson called “What Is Love”. She delivered this gorgeous ballad with an emotion that we could definitely feel. She followed with the lovely “Ain’t Nothin’ But Love” accompanied by an acoustic guitar. This mid-tempo number had the crowd rocking gently.

Vivian thanked her fans for sticking with her while she took some time off to raise her son, explaining the 5 year gap between albums, which led to “Somewhere” from the new CD. This dramatic love song is where she really sang her heart out and gave the show-stopping performance of the night. “Out of this world…” she sang!

She followed this with “Fanatic” which had a groove borrowed from D’Angelo’s “Spanish Joint” – a very clever and effective re-arrangement given the lyrical content about an addictive love.

Vivian introduced her “little” brother, who co-wrote and performed on the next song “So Far Gone”. His energy was high, but his rapping was no match for his big sister’s vocal. She finished her set with "Beautiful", the title track of her latest CD, which she described as a “nice break-up song”, about separating with encouragement and advice on how to make the next relationship better. She used this as a teachable moment for the audience…“ put her on a pedestal, and tell her she looks beautiful”. Lyrically, this is one of her most powerful songs.

After a rousing applause she returned for a well-deserved encore with her big hit “Emotional Rollercoaster”, which everyone was waiting for. For a final song she appropriately sang “Gotta Go, Gotta Leave”. Vivian may be under the radar of most, but she is well deserving of wider appreciation. She has a gift and she knows how to use it

Triple Star Sound Stage is to be commended to bringing us a dynamic (and affordable!) show with two true artists. Look forward to more to come from this group.

Sound Track

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Chico DeBarge 2009 Track
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Chico DeBarge 90s Track
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