Philadelphia, PA–Since 1972, The Dell Music Center has presented the Essence of Entertainment concert series hosting some of the most renown names in the industry the late Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, The Ojay’s, The Isley Brothers, Patti Labelle, Gladys Knight and Charlie Wilson are just a fraction of the prestigious artists that have blessed the stage.
This Thursday evening was without a doubt one of the most extraordinary showcases yet with the impeccable sounds of multiplatinum recording artists After 7 together with Babyface for what became a truly momentous celebration in honor of their mother the late Barbara Edmonds’ ninetieth birthday.
Supplying the hottest tunes and hosting the illustrious entertainment affair was none other than DJ Gary O along with the legendary Patty Jackson of WDAS 105.3 delivering their infinite flavor, setting off that everlasting exuberant vibe.
Opening the astounding production was special guest Jershika Maple, season twenty-one contestant of team Legend on NBC’s The Voice. The twenty-four year old Killen, TX native belted out notes to Frankie Beverly and Maze’s “Before I Let Go“, Beyonce’s “We Like To Party” before eloquently serenading listeners to Voice favorite “God Only Knows” and debut single from her forthcoming album “Let It Be Known” inspiring her growing fan base.
Ensuing the rising songstress was up and coming vocalist Damon Karl of Indianapolis, IN who was specially requested by Babyface to join the talented supporting lineup. Performing his flair to MJ’s “Rock With You“, new single “Don’t Wake Me Up (If I’m Dreaming) while flossing his guitar skills, the young crooner tackled a lasting vibrato to Heatwave classic “Always And Forever” receiving a welcoming audience reaction.
Topping the musicale openers were the fabulous Jazz sounds of LA’s Lao Tizer and his sensational ensemble featuring world-class musicians two-time Grammy Award winning Saxophonist Eric Marienthal, renowned Violinist Karen Briggs, four-time Grammy Award winning Percussionist Munyungo Jackson, Grammy nominated Drummer Gene Coye, powerhouse Bass player Cheikh Ndoye and multi-talented vocalist Tita Hutchison jamming with the famed composer to a number of masterpieces including “Shades Of Love” finessing the crowd.
Presenting the megastar headliner were multiplatinum R&B group After 7 gracing the stage receiving abundant love from thrilled admirers opening to 1989 smash hit “Heat Of The Moment” off their self-titled debut album firing up the sold-out venue. Flexing that classic two-step swagger, the dynamic trio performed endless fan favorites “One Night“, “Til You Do Me Right“, “Sara’s Smile” and top charter “Can’t Stop” handsomely melting lady hearts.
The suave jet setters concluded their love spell to new track “Bittersweet” off their 2021 release Unfinished Business along with jams “Baby I’m For Real/Natural High” dedicated to their late brother and original member Melvin Edmonds, Soulfood cut “I Care Bout You“, Five Heartbeats hit “Nights Like This“, “I Want You“, new sexy single “Tomorrow Can Wait“, Kevon solo hit “24/7” in memory of their mom, closing to certified Gold smash “Ready Or Not” luring fans to fall in love again.
A tumultuously elated uproar rushed throughout the entire amphitheater as the smoke lit stage geared up for one of music’s most acclaimed virtuosos to have ever dominated the art of song. Stepping on the set silky as can be was the maestro himself Babyface opening to smooth 1993 smash “For The Cool In You” to a legion of ecstatic fans.
The twelve-time Grammy Award winning genius bestowed his multitude of number one hits “Every Time I Close My Eyes“, “Soon As I Get Home“, “Never Keeping Secrets“, “Whip Appeal“, “Sunshine” before gloriously paying tribute to greats Earth, Wind and Fire on “Reasons“, “That’s The Way Of The World” reminiscing with enduring lovers “how powerful the words were” then artistically stroking guitar strings to ballad “Exceptional” captivating his audience.
Taking a moment to reflect on his stardom by way of his mother citing “it couldn’t have happened without her” the melodic stunner performed an extensive collection of songs written and produced by the heavyweight for a roster of artists Midnight Star, The Whispers, Johnny Gill, After 7, Dru Hill, The Deele, Bobby Brown, Tevin Campbell, Boyz II Men, Toni Braxton, Brandy, TLC, Mary J. Blige and Whitney Houston notably closing with an emotional finale dedicating special tribute with help from his brother Kevon to “A Song For Mama” moving the entire music center.