By Raymond Jackson
On a great feeling Sunday evening, Ruben Studdard and Lalah Hathaway started their 2014 tour at The Dakota Nightclub, located in downtown Minneapolis, in grand fashion!
Although the previewing marked Ruben as the marquee, once the show began it was quite apparent that there was no specific marquee involved in this performance. They were both simply fantastic. They began the show together with a five piece band and two background vocalists, who too, were really good.
During the opening, two duet ballads, the dinner crowd knew they were destined to receive an after dinner mint, that would be the most favorable they had tasted in quite some time.
Following the opening set, Mr. Studdard left the stage, turning it over to Ms. Hathaway, who immediately kept the ball rolling and very dramatically made the listening audience remember exactly who her late daddy is, the great Donny Hathaway. At the tender age of 45, she showed how her vocal abilities remained very constant as she sang a series of tunes off of her six albums, and some remarkably redone covers.
Then Ruben returned to go into the song he used to win American Idol in 2003, “Flying Without Wings,“ originally recorded by Westlife. He beat 2003 American Idol runner up, Clay Aiken, by 134,000 votes of the 24 million votes cast. Although there was no dance floor available, Studdard had many of those in attendance dancing in the aisles.
Lalah, born Eulaulah Donyll Hathaway, soon returned to the stage, showing her alto and contralto skills, and having always being identified as the eldest daughter of the late Donny Hathaway, she showed a lot of his ability and style. She also showed a lot of her ability to interact with the audience and show her comedic side.
Having released six albums, she sang many of her favorites, including, “When Your Life Was Low”, from her album, The Song Lives On, which she recorded with the jazz great, Joe Sample of the dynamic Crusaders. That album, released in 1999, topped out at number two on the jazz charts. She also sang Luther Vandross’ “Forever, For Always, For Love”, which was featured on her fourth album, Outrun the Sky, in 2004, and it peaked at number one on the R&B charts.
Her scatting was simply remarkable and she showed how she went on earlier this year to win the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance along with Snarky Puppy for “ Something “. Having had the opportunity to sing with such greats as Take 6, Mary J. Blige, and The Winans to name a few, you can see, hear and feel that influence take shape in her performance. She, as well as Ruben, has had great obstacles to overcome in their livelihoods most specifically, you can sometimes tell that the death of her father — when she was only 10 years of age — continues to linger with her. She does not sing many of her father’s hits, as part of her musical development.
Mr. Studdard’s setbacks range from obesity to money mismanagement to divorce as the most recent. He was divorced from his wife of four years in April of 2012.
He has had a lot of television experience since leaving American Idol and looks forward to more theater opportunities.
Upon returning to the stage, he and Ms. Hathaway did several more duets before introducing the band and back-up vocalists and, to a standing ovation and finale applause, they returned to the stage to do a startling encore, honoring the late Michael Jackson, that had the crowd sweating and wanting even more.
They greeted the crowd outside of their dressing room area — posing for pictures and shaking hands — before bidding us ado, as they went to prepare for their next two days of performances here in the Twin Cities.
Lalah Hathaway and Ruben Studdard will be performing at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant for an additional two nights — April 7 and 8, 7 pm and 9 pm shows. You can also join Ruben Studdard and Cave de Lungy for an Artist Wine Lunch on April 8 at noon. Go to www.dakotacooks.com for more information.
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