Though still offering flashes of his original ghetto-soul appeal, it’s obvious the New Brunswick, N.J. native has graduated to the Grownfolks Club. Gone are the dreds, doo-rags, sideways ballcaps and throwback athletic wear he sported during his debut days in the early 2000s.
On this night, he rocked a black suit accented with gold sequin (ala Luther) and later changed to a black tuxedo and bow tie, reminiscent of the late Lou Rawls—’70sstyle.
Musically, his performance was welcomed, mainly because it mirrors his respect for R&B royalty. A 10-piece “live” band, complete with a quartet of highly-talented background singers, with Gladys Knight & The Pips’ flavor, provided the audience with a feeling of a back-in-the-day soulfest.
As the grandson of former Drifters’ member, Victor “Hoagy Lands” Hoagland, Jaheim left it all onstage, as he dedicated the show to his late mother’s birthday, while mourning the death of his grandmother who died earlier in the week, he told the audience.
Challenges aside, the entertainer entertained, and did it well, through his obvious pain. Live, he’s got the powerful vocals and a lofty range he utilizes while emulating such greats as Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston, he said.
Also credit neosoul artist Chrisette Michele (Payne) for a well-received opening act, based on reactions throughout the venue. Hopefully, next time, she’ll hire real musicians instead of using recorded tracks and a couple of backup singers whose authentic vocal work appeared suspect.
But, Chrisette’s unique vocal chops were on-point – especially on “Girlfriend” and “A Couple of Forevers,” her sample of The O’Jays’ “Stairway to Heaven” classic.
The Jaheim Hoagland play list is full of hits, based on his string of popular releases since his 2001 “Ghetto Love” album debut.
Folks don’t mind paying for real talent and appreciate seeing hitmakers. Jah’s playlist included “I Ain’t Leavin’ Without You (Hey How You Doin’),” “Gotta Find My Way Back,” “It’s All About Me,” “Put That Woman First” and “Age Ain’t a Factor” (Isley Brothers’ “Groove With You” sample).
A mid-show tribute to Luther and Teddy featured his performances of “House Is Not A Home” and “Close The Door.”
“I still feel like I must get permission to sing their songs,” he smiled, while giving the two late artists their due respect. Ironically, “I Ain’t Leavin Without You,” was sampled from a song first recorded by a 1970s Baltimore vocal group called The Whatnauts, making the tune timely and fitting for a Charm City crowd.
Prior to ending the show with “Just In Case,” Jaheim casually strolled into the first rows of the auditorium and greeted the ladies with cupcakes and sweets—as strips of confetti fell from the rafters—an awesome display of his Appreciation for his fans.
The Appreciation Tour was scheduled for an Atlanta appearance at the Fox Theater and recently visited Washington D.C. and Richmond, performance venues.
It’s obvious this young artist is humble and appreciative of his God-given talent and of his unique fan-base; many of whom are women who grew up in his mother’s generation.
Yet, Jaheim is savvy and intelligent enough not to make any of them feel uncomfortable, by referring to their ages or anything targeting their time on earth.
He treated them all with respect and from the many kisses and hugs he received, it’s no doubt the love-fest is being reciprocated.