Material: Shawn Atkins is continuing the good work of CeeLo Green, covering the likes of James Brown and Curtis Mayfield while penning some songs of his own. For his original romantic soul jazz song, “It’s A Beautiful Thing,” Atkins is not afraid to get both funky and intimate with a bit of spoken word between singing, “Before the dawn’s early light/your silhouette caught my attention/got me thinking about that love we made all night/how you released your inhibitions...”
Musicianship: Wilson and Birkhead do funk justice with a virtual horn section and jazzy bass lines. Jangda’s guitar and Wilson’s keys are mostly low in the overall mix. The band could work on their dynamics to highlight both Kyte and Jungda’s solos but do achieve that goal when everyone comes down for “It’s A Beautiful Thing.” It feels like Wilson and Birkhead need more space compositionally for solos of their own. Stacey Lamont Sydnor transitions between grooves and hits breaks and finales flawlessly.
Performance: Myra Washington, aka DJ Karma Camille, started the night with a DJ set joined by a live drummer. Following this crowd warm-up she introduced Atkins, who took the stage for James Brown’s “I Don’t Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing.” Atkins got audience participation going for “Better Day” and introduced the band with Curtis Mayfield’s “Give Me Your Love,” the perfect number to showcase them.
Kyte and Washington added fun energy with glittery costumes, synchronized dancing and sexy interplay with Atkins. Kyte did not let feedback issues affect her energy as she really went for it on a knock-out vocal solo, nearly stealing the show. The band only seemed to lose momentum after the feedback issue with the main mic, which peaked through the set.
Summary: The night played out like an old- fashioned revue. Kyte used Atkins’ band with Washington as DJ, along with two back-up vocalists for a solo number. Washington also used Atkins’ band and sang lead for her set, covering mid-1980s classics like “Meeting in the Ladies Room” by Klymaxx. Washington introduced that band’s founder, Bernadette Cooper, sitting at the bar. It is a joy to experience this music live. The troupe should do well as a package tour.
The Players: Shawn Atkins, vocals; KiKi Kyte, backup vocals; Myra Washington, backup vocals; Ash Jangda, guitar; Christopher Wilson, keyboard; William Birkhead, bass; Stacey Lamont Sydnor, drums.
Photo by Kai Morrison.