90’s R&B Karaoke: The Ultimate Concert Experience | By: Shan Britton

90’s R&B Karaoke: The Ultimate Concert Experience | By: Shan Britton

COVER STORY | January 5, 2019, Washington, DC. I walked into what I thought would be a normal night of karaoke. You know the vibes, local bar, words on the screen, everyone drunk and singing along. I was wrong by a long shot. As I adjusted my yellow Tommy Hilfiger jacket, it became clear to me that this was no ordinary event. It was a production. There were no words on the screen, only nostalgia and an indescribable love for all things 90’s R&B. As the night progressed, you could feel the energy heighten to new levels. There was this strong sense of pride being surrounded by my people to the left and right of me, belting out classic tunes from Silk, Jodeci, Tevin Campbell, SWV, and Mary J. Blige. It was beauty in all forms. Then it was my turn to take the stage. I contemplated whether or not I would perform, but after seeing so many people, I knew it was a no brainer. The creator of the event Jason took to the stage with me, and we belted out our best rendition of Jodeci’s Cry For You. I don’t recall at which point the song ended, but for those five minutes, you could not tell me I wasn’t a member of Jodeci myself. The crowd went crazy! After that, a few of the performers pulled me on stage to sing along with them. I was buzzing on a natural high, and at that moment, I knew my life had been forever changed.

Shan Britton | Courtesy of Catt Hamlin

I’ve been to three more shows since that very first show and each one has only gotten better. What sets this event apart from others, is the experience that the creators and team are determined to give you. I saw it first hand when I arrived early to one of the Brooklyn shows and saw the team working together to ensure a successful night. There wasn’t one person running the show or dictating how things should be instead, the whole team was working hard, adjusting lighting and cameras, hanging posters, taking names of the performers, setting up the photo area, making sure all of the details were in place for the night ahead. Oftentimes, when you attend an event, you don’t get to see what’s done behind the scenes to bring it together. That gave me so much more respect for the show and the people behind it. When you attend one of their events, you know you’re getting a quality production and what a production it is!

As soon as you step foot into one of their events, you are instantly hit with nostalgic memories. It can be from childhood, hanging with your friends, a first love, or just singing in the mirror with a hairbrush to your favorite group. The DJ spinning a carefully curated playlist prepares to take you back in time. The crowd starts to grow bigger and bigger. You’re singing alongside people you’ve never met, but it doesn’t matter because, in that moment, you are all one. The energy begins to fill the space. It’s not just any energy, rather a distinctive one that only 90’s R&B can bring out. You know, the one that fills the room with community, purpose, and love. The anticipation starts to set in. The hosts are on the stage building up the crowd. The DJ has you at the moment reliving all of your favorite memories. It’s time for the show to begin. Right out the gate, the hosts hit you with a performance that’s one for the books. The tone for the night has been set. You’re amused and intrigued at the same time and only want more. As each person takes the stage, they pull you deeper and deeper in. Some are dressed in their flyest 90’s outfits, only bringing more intensity to their performance. Pretty soon, you find yourself screaming for these performers as if you were at one of your favorite artists’ concerts. After a few performances, the hosts reemerge and the DJ continuously plays all of your favorite songs. The crowd sings together like one big family. Some hop on stage, others close their eyes and simply feel. Myself, I do the latter. I let the music, crowd, and energy just take me away. There are a few more amazing performances and by this point, you’re completely transcended. The hosts bring it in for one last song, one you don’t want to end, are begging not to end. The crowd belts it out together one last time, with new memories created, friendships made, and a whole new love for 90’s R&B.

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1 Comment

  1. This article made me feel like I was in your experience with you. I love the details and the journey.

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