So we all have a bucket list right? That list of things we want to do before we “kick the bucket”. As I approach 40 (I’ll be 39 this November), I’ve become very aware of approaching “middle age”…shudders! My bucket list has never really been set in stone. In fact, I’d say I don’t have much of a true bucket list. I just have a number of things that I’ve always wanted to do and I’m just beginning to realize that I may not have all that much time to actually do these things. I’m realizing I’m not getting any younger and time is fleeting and finite. Besides, I’m at a stage in my life, where I’m not “hurting” for money, my bills are paid on time and I’m no longer living paycheck to paycheck. So as John Legend sings:
“Cuz now every day is feeling like Friday (Friday)
I’m getting paid and doing it my way (my way)
We’re finally on our way
Baby now it’s time to celebrate
Oh live it up
We can go crazy
Live it up
You and me baby
Live it up, live it up, live it up”
Ok, now that the mortality bit is over, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. My bucket list is fluid. It changes at my whims and based on my circumstances, but a few things have been pretty steady all along, see my all time favorite artists in concert (Stevie Wonder, Prince, Lionel Ritchie, Morris Day and The Time, etc), travel more within the USA, and also more overseas, get healthy and live longer (not really a “bucket list” item, but a lifelong goal).
Right now, I’m actively working on getting healthy and living longer. I’ve already traveled out the country once (India). I hope to do so again. My next overseas trip is going to be to Australia next year for my 40th birthday (more on that in a later post). I had a chance to see both Prince and Lionel Ritchie as last year’s Essence Festival, but I missed that opportunity (I still kick myself for missing both). When I first heard that Stevie Wonder was taking Songs in the Key of Life on tour, I was soo bummed that he the closest he was coming to NOLA was Atlanta. I was debated whether or not it was worth it to travel to ATL to see Stevie. Ultimately, I chose not to, it would have been too much of a hassle. So I just chalked it up to another missed opportunity. Then it was announced that Stevie was adding 10 new cities to the tour, and soon as I found out that NOLA was one of the cities added, I decided I was going to see Stevie come hell or high water.
Welp, obviously neither hell nor high water came, so last Tuesday at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA, I got to see a musical genius at his best! The show started a bit late (about 15min), probably to give time for traffic and for the musicians to get on stage and stuff. Then the lights dropped and out walked Stevie Wonder onto the stage accompanied by this woman in white, wearing a wrap on her head. Everyone cheered for Stevie, but then those of us who know her all realized that it wasn’t just some random woman who accompanied Stevie, it was none other than India Arie!! We found out a bit later that Stevie’s daughter Aisha (inspiration for Isn’t She Lovely) was feeling under the weather, so Stevie asked India Arie to fill in for Aisha (and let’s be honest, I’m pretty sure India ain’t real busy right now, so…). Here is a picture of Stevie and Aisha followed by a picture of Stevie and India at Smoothie King.
Here is Stevie Wonder and India Arie in NOLA
So India Arie guides Stevie to a center stage seat with all the instruments Stevie will need throughout what ended up being almost 4hrs of music, banter and outright genius that is Stevie Wonder. The entire set list was going to be all the songs from the original Songs in the Key of Life recording mostly in order from “Loves In Need of Love” to “Another Star” along with the songs on the B-side, “Saturn”, “Ebony Eyes”, “ All Day Sucker” and “Easy Going Evening (My Mama’s Call)”. The final 45 minutes included an “encore” performance where Stevie sang a few of his other hits, and played some clips of his other hits. He sang 4 hits, such as “Uptight”, “Higher Ground” and “Superstitions”
Before I share my video recording, the first thing of note is how great Stevie Wonder sounded the entire night! My friend and I both commented regularly on how well-preserved Stevie’s voice was. Which is today’s age of auto-tuned pop stars was an impressive feat. From “Love’s In Need” to “If It’s Magic” to faster pace like “Superstitions”, “Sir Duke” and “I Wish”, it was as if we were listening to a recording. Thanks both to Stevie’s superb vocals, and to the very good musicians in the band, from strings to harmonicas, to brass, to percussions, to back up singers and the band leader. They were all obviously well-trained, well-tuned and experienced musicians.
The second thing I wanted to note before sharing my videos, the voices you hear in the background of a lot of the recording, are from me and my friend D. We pretty much had a running commentary going on when we weren’t singing along or sitting in silence trying not to get a contact high from whoever it was above our section who decided that smoking pot was the thing to do at a Stevie Wonder concert (don’t even ask…eyeroll). So on more than a few of the videos we are talking a bit, but not so much that it will distract from how great Stevie and company sounded.
So, here’s the link to My YouTube playlist, the playlist includes all 21 videos I shot at the concert. I’ll be adding one more video, if my friend ever emails it to me. It’s from the first song in the whole set, “Love’s In Need Of Love”
So sit back, close your eyes and imagine you were there for a minute! Even when the video quality drops out, the audio sounded great. So enjoy!
A few stand outs for me:
“Village Ghetto-Land” That string section…wooh!
Pastime Paradise – Man, just hearing the instruments live and Stevie singing!
Ordinary Pain – By this time, it was at least 2 hrs in and a couple of songs before the intermission and Stevie sounded fantastic!
Isn’t She Lovely – Ummm cause I love that song. plus the Stevie and that harmonica solo…duh!
If It’s Magic – Cause after 3 hours, the man still sounded great and he mentioned that the jazz harpist on this song, was a Black woman named Dorothy Ashby, who died a decade after the album was released…beautiful!
“Another Star”, the last song on the Keys of Life portion of the concert, before the encore. It was great to hear all the muscians and Stevie playing togther.
“Superstitions” The final song of the night, and Stevie still sounded great!