May 19, 2012
The Howard Theater was packed with the beautiful and powerful people of Washington, DC. Around the room you see Young Urban Professionals; drinks and food being poured and served at excessive levels. Even before understanding the history of the Howard Theater, you can feel the regality and legacy of the building, even with its new 20 foot flat-screen monitors on each side of the stage.
Folks in the room had no idea what they were to witness in just a few short minutes. Grammy Award nominated Bilal Oliver, one of the most eclectic and talented artists of this generation was set to grace the stage of the Howard Theater. DMV’ers in their Sunday best, hoping for a quiet and relaxing evening were pleasantly surprised by the DJ Biggs set. Playing everything from New Edition to Beyonce, DJ Biggs did more than warm up the crowd. His audio tribute to Whitney, Michael, Luther, James Brown, and Chuck left the audience shaking their heads, wiping tears, and waving their hands. The room was prepared for Bilal, produced by Jill Newman Productions.
Bilal enters the stage in all-black with black shades to match, adding to his enigmatic persona. He begins the show with “Make Me Over,” a funk highlight from his unreleased album “Love for Sale.” You could literally scan the crowd and pick out the people that have never seen Bilal perform. In short; his performances are perfectly and legendarily bizarre. No show is ever the same; nor does he perform a song in the same way - EVER. His manic and unpredictable shows are artistic showcases of his tremendous talent. His voice needs to be studied for range, texture, and impeccable pitch. Rarely does Bilal miss a note.
Each Bilal show is something to classify in your brain under the "Epic" category. Bilal, produced By Jill Newman Productions, did not disappoint, and the Ebony article was on point; it was indeed fire. The highlight of the show came when Bilal and his band paid special tribute to DC legend Chuck Brown, by mixing "Something to Hold on to" with the classic Chuck Brown anthem "Bustin' Loose." That was a very special moment and should go directly into Howard Theater history. And as always, Bilal's soul stirring performance of "Sometimes" left grown men close to tears. OK, maybe that was just me. Either way, his effortless vocals were the highlight of his show, as always.