The temperature in Pittsburgh on Saturday night, April 9, plummeted below freezing; but it was triple digit heat on the inside of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.
It was the fire behind the powerful voice of Grammy Nominated, singer, songwriter and vocal stylist, Maysa being spread all over the sold out auditorium.
She has been performing for 25 years and this tour is part of a year celebration; not only for that milestone, but also this is her year of “50” because she will be 50 years of age in August, so the tour reflects those two events—silver and gold.
Opening up with new music she belted out each tune with what appeared to be little effort. In between each line of lyrics, she utilized the “Scat” to further tantalize the audience drawing them deeper into her artistry; demonstrating her vast range; up and down the scale.
Backed by her full band; Charles Baldwin, bass; Damon Bennett, MD/ keys; Tim Hutson, drums; and Richard Tucker, guitar. Included also was jazz violinist, Chelsey King, who did not hold back in her electric dance with the stringed instrument. Her solo opportunity in the tune “What are you doing for the Rest of your Life?,” is where she burned up the stage and seats, and left us all yearning for more and fondly remembering Pittsburgh’s own Rodney McCoy.
Newest member to her band, saxophonist Rick Tate, took the concert several layers higher himself. And the lone back up singer Angela Phillips, held it down by herself.
The evening’s repertoire included new works by Maysa such as “Back to Love,” which she explained she wrote as a personal commitment to move forward with her life after years being devoted to raising her son. This is on the new album of the same title due to released soon.
“Out of the Blue,” a song she wrote about the love of her child who came at a time when she didn’t’ expect him—three months early—she ended up delivering him at 25 weeks; and proudly introduced her now; handsome, healthy 16 year old son Jazz. The entire audience could feel the depth of her love as she sang his song. The strongest place in the moment was when she brought him out on stage and he played with the drummer on the song.
“Hypnotic Love” was a song she wrote about unrequited love and the pain and brokenness that comes from it. Clearly this was a night about love and connection on every level, starting with demonstrating a greater love of self.
Through a combination of conversations sprinkled with appropriately placed humor, and the music she selected, she made that message known. At one point she even made the audience promise to “do something for themselves” before the week was out. Commenting that “it’s time we began to get some of the love we pour onto others poured onto us.”
But the audience was primed for the party too as she took us on an “Old School” ride through all those songs we loved so well, including hits like “Flashlight,” by Funkadelic, music by AWB, and of course “Incognito” and more.
She rounded out the concert with a conversation about the encouragement she received from her parents who came to her in a dream at a time when she was experiencing great stress. She shared “in a dream my parents sat at the kitchen table and told me to ‘breath’ take it easy, to stop worrying so much and that all would be well.”
“I wrote a song about that experience, “It’s only a Dream.”
Continuing what seemed to be the theme of the concert—LOVE—her final numbers beginning with “Deep Waters—l’m Drowning,” “I’ll always Love You,” “I Love to Love You Baby” and “I’ve Got Love On My Mind” spoke to how she started out, with the renewed commitment to moving on with her life as she reaches two milestones in one year, 25 years of life in the music industry, and 50 years of life on this earth.
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