Top Ten Live Music Experiences

Who, Where, When & Why

1. Cassandra Wilson – Fiesole, Italy – July 2011

Because she is the GUNGO and come on I have almost every song the woman has ever sung, plus this is in an open air arena with Italy and my mother was there. I couldn’t even script it. And she sang Death Letter.

2. Stevie Wonder – London, England – June 2010

Because this is Stevie Wonder, legend is a mild word. It was a sunny day in London and I went alone but made a million friends because EVERY one loves Stevie. And he sang Dont Ya Worry Bout a Thang which is almost as good as singing Golden Lady hence his position on the chart.

3. Lauryn Hill – Toronto, Cananda –  August 1999

Because she was the fiercest, illest thing going. She made hip hop feminist. She was flying in the face of the wind with no idea of the decade of hell to come. I was with Andy & Heath & Ish and the tickets were a surprise. I love them.

4. Third World – Kingston, Jamaica – June  1996

Because we had had our last exam that Friday and my best friend Marc and I were ready to party. They had not performed together or in Jamaica for years and they did it in a small courtyard, played all the best songs and sounded like wax. yup, yup. And we drank a lot of alcoholic beverages.

5. Sing the Truth (Dianne Reeves, Lizz Wright, Angelique Kidjo) – London, England – July 2011

Because I took my mother to this show and Lizz Wright went over when she sang How I Got Over. Because she brought church to the Barbican, proving yet again how powerful words and music are and can I get an Amen?!

6. Angelique Kidjo – Montego Bay, Jamaica – February 2002

Because it was the first time I was seeing this whirling African dervish whose voice and passion are in inverse proportion to her size. Plus she had us up on the stage dancing to Tumba. Didn’t anyone get photos. Forced me to buy her cd and each one after that, sight unseen.

7. Allison Hinds – Bridgetown, Barbados – June 2004

Because my friend Marc figures heavily in a lot of shenanigans. His party at the After Dark, again after exams when I stayed back for a week and quickly got over my anti-soca sentiments while wukkin up a storm. And there was another Mark there too.

8. Miriam Makeba – Rodney Bay, St. Lucia – May 2001

Because my first exposure to South African music and its brutal politics was “Piece of Ground” . They played this video every day on local tv with no editorial. because she was awesome and because Pata Pata makes me want to dance and she is proof that age means nothing if you have passion. Mommy was there too.

9. Jill Scott – Montego Bay, Jamaica – February 2007

Because the woman is a poet and she was fresh off the 5th album? The Real Thing and because Crown Royal & Ice is too sexy for words and this woman is all about grown folks music.

10. Hugh Masakela – Montego Bay, Jamaica – February 2007

Because there is nothing I love more than Grazin’ in the Grassland.

* Three Kuti Men: Fela! Through the musical at the National, Femi in Toronto 1998 and Seun, London 2011. The fascinating thing about the sons beyond their obvious talent was how actively the younger embraced his father’s legacy and how skittish the elder was, when what is clear is that they are his inherited imprimatur.


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