Cincinnati Music Festival continued its tradition of bringing R&B’s top performing artists to the “Queen City”. The city has been an incubator of the weekend long music fest for over 20 years and typically attracts huge crowds from across the country. This year’s fest was no exception. Per usual, the festival was held at the Paul Brown Stadium in Downtown Cincinnati during the July 24th weekend.
The festival definitely delivered a mixed bag of musical genres as this year’s concert included performances by headliners like Jill Scott, Maxwell, Kem, the “Mighty” O’Jays, and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. Other artists like Marley Marl, Jennifer Hudson, Avery Sunshine, also made appearances. Despite a few technical glitches, the concert ran very smoothly. However, there were definitely some hits and misses from the festival performers.
The most memorable moments and/or ‘hits’ came from performers like Joe, the O’Jay’s and Maze. Nothing surprising here, right? These veteran performers have been around long enough to know how to give audience members what they like. Even nineties R&B crooner Joe, who didn’t have his own plethora of “number one hits” to draw from, kept the crowd rocking to some really great covers. And when he did sing his hits, he put his heart and soul into the music. I guess that’s why he is able to keep coming back.
The most disappointing performances “or rather misses” surprisingly came from two musical favorites: Jennifer Hudson and Maxwell. #Maxwell closed out Friday night’s show but his performance was less than headline worthy. Not only were his vocals somewhat off key but they were drowned out by loud music and his lone standing background vocalist Latina Webb. Latina seemed to carry the weight of Maxwell’s struggling performance. Now as a die hard Maxwell fan ‘and I still am”, I was more than disappointed at what seemed to be an unrehearsed variety act of sorts that included a lot of laughing (by the artist himself), microphone grinding, missed vocal pitches and just “odd” behavior. His lackluster performance nearly cleared the main level as people began exiting mid performance.
Another disappointing nod came from one of Chicago’s most valuable “it” girl, Jennifer Hudson affectionately known as “JHud”. Although Jennifer has undeniably, powerful and riveting vocals, her performance was mediocre at best. She was unable to connect with the massive audience that included a high population of her own homegrown supporters. Don't get me wrong, her singing was on point. It’s just that the audience couldn’t really sing along with her, something concert goers like to share with their favorite artists. Her performance lack popularity of hit making songs and the ability to keep the audience engaged. However, she did silence the “naysayers at the end of her performers with her Jennifer Holiday rendition.