It’s been nearly 15 years since his self-titled debut album graced the Soul music scene with one of the most distinguishable voices in the industry. Yet, Rahsaan Patterson gave one of the most soulful and vocally pleasant performances of his entire career at a recent Bleuphoria Live concert.
In a hall filled with Soul legends, music industry icons, and fans, Patterson bared his soul through a microphone for nearly three hours. He performed several songs from each of his six studio albums, only taking a few small breaks to revel in the euphoric sounds of his band and backing singers.
Reliving records like “Spend the Night,” “Friend of Mine,” “Feels Good,” and “Stop Breaking My Heart” provided many audience members with an introduction to his adept cataloge of expertly written songs infused with a gritty vocal technique developed over the years.
Patterson spun his voice around the microphone, creating an assortment of sounds which captivated the audience, lacing the room with vocal riffs accompanied live by Chaka Khan and Rachelle Ferrell. His re-arrangement of the classic Jazz tune “I Only Have Eyes For You” stunned the crowd, invoking a thunderous ovation twice.
“Easier Said Than Done” offered layered harmonies which kept developing and drawing the audience in further with every note.
Just as the audience felt at ease listening to Patterson’s interpretations, legendary Soul heiress Lalah Hathaway joined him on stage to perform his newest single “6 a.m.” Her voice was rich with a signature Jazz flavor apparently passed down from her father, Donny Hathaway. After their vocal duet, Hathaway took a seat at the piano using her key-stroking skills to create her own distinctive interpretation of Sade’s “Stronger Than Pride.”
R&B singer, Shanice, stopped by to perform background on “Crazy (Baby),” giving the audience a taste of her soaring vocal range. Patterson admitted that he has always loved Shanice’s ability to sing powerful notes, which he remembered from his days working with her on the 1984 television show “Kids Inc.”
As he began to perform “Ghost,” Patterson announced that a legend was in the building, and then he called Jody Watley up to perform. She danced around the stage with the same vibrancy she had in the 1980s, turning the audience into a retro dance club. Watley’s presence added to the powerful sounds of Patterson’s newly released album, “Bleuphoria.” The album utilizes several musical themes from Watley’s heyday and is reminiscent of 1980s releases by Whitney Houston, Prince, Luther Vandross and Freddie Jackson.
As the night went on, the audience fell in love with the vibrant soulfulness of Patterson’s string quartet and horn section, which brought back the idea that Soul music is rooted in expression from a wide range of instrumentation. Patterson’s use of live instruments reminded the audience of other classic live Soul albums by pioneers like Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, Anita Baker and Mary J. Blige.
Patterson’s Bleuphoria Live concert clearly provided a message to the industry that Soul music still possesses the ‘wow factor.’ And his ability to bring together some of the greatest musicians and singers for a legendary live recording is a testament to Patterson’s position in Soul music. It is also clear from his awe-inspiring performance that Rahsaan Patterson is one of this generation’s greatest singer-songwriters, and his artistic approach is sent down from somewhere in the skies.
James B. Golden is a Los Angeles-based music journalist. He has previously edited the Hip Hop Think Tank academic journal and Kapu-Sens Literary magazine. He is the author of a Hip Hop poetry collection entitled “Sweet Potato Pie Underneath The Sun’s Broiler.” He may be reached at www.JamesBGolden.com.