Pearl Fest

Mandrake Park, 39th and Ellis,Chicago, IL
Aug. 22, 2010

Esperanza Spalding

Review and photos by James Walker, Jr., Copyright 2010

Little Black Pearl's annual Festival at Mandrake Park on the South side featured musical performances by four "divas" that exceeded all expectations for a "neighborhood" Festival.

Chicago's Terisa Griffin, world renowned Nona Hendryx (formally a member of Labelle), Oleta Adams, and budding superstar bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spaulding wowed the audience with an array of jazz, R&B, and "down home" funk for three plus hours. Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington coordinated and led the band that backed these vocal wonders.

Griffin opened the festivities with a solid performance that had all assembled in amazement of her high energy set. Terisa's set included primarily numbers from her CD My Naked Soul, with her reaching a pinnacle on Prince's "Purple Rain." What a jump start to this festival.

Esperanza kept the energy going as she demonstrated with her electric and upright bass why she was recently recognized by Downbeat Magazine as the number one "rising star acoustic bass player" in the world. In addition, her vocal instrument was in top notch form. One could almost feel the energy she was emitting with every thump on the bass and each sound from her ever developing vocal chords.

Oleta Adams sparred little time keeping the crowd energized as she sang and played the 88s with a purpose and with passion. Small in stature but a giant behind the keyboard, Oleta reached her peak on her signature song "Get Here If You Can."

Hendryx rightfully was saved for last as the former Patti Labelle side kick simply "rocked the house" with some classic Labelle numbers including a really funky "Lady Marmalade." Additionally , she invited a group from the audience to the stage to demonstrate their best dance moves. This was quite a sight and all appeared to enjoy the audience participation segment. The 60-something Nona knows how to keep a party going .

Monica Haslip, director of "Little Black Pearl" is to be congratulated again for bringing to the South side such an exceptional group of musical performers who thoroughly entertained the crowd on a beautiful summer evening at Mandrake Park.

Terisa Griffin

Nona Hendryx

Oleta Adams

Oleta Adams

Maggie Brown

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