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Concert Review: Mahalia

Hey y’all, I got another concert review for ya! Keeping up with the R&B theme, I went to see Mahalia at The Underground in Charlotte for her In Real Life tour on Mar. 13. Some background on Mahalia, she’s an indie R&B/Soul singer from the UK, specifically Leicestershire, and she’s the daughter of musicians. Her mother was in Colourbox, which was a UK electronic musical group in the 80s, and her father toured with Erasure, who was a UK synth-pop duo in the 80s as well. In 2017, she had her breakthrough performance with “Sober” for the YouTube channel Colors, and then the following year she was ranked number one on YouTube’s Ones to Watch List. She even campaigned and advocated last year for an R&B category to be added at the Brit Awards instead of combining Pop/R&B together. She stated that R&B in the UK was thriving, and lo and behold the R&B category was added to this year’s Brit Awards. Raye took home the first R&B Brit Award, and she even thanked Mahalia in her acceptance speech for campaigning for this category. 

The show started off with Mahalia’s opener on the tour, another indie R&B/Soul singer from Montreal, Canada named Alicia Creti. Full transparency, once Mahalia announced her tour and her opener, I went ahead and listened to Alicia’s music so I could be familiar with her music prior to the concert. When I tell you that I was blown away by not only her music but her voice and how strong and soulful it was. Hearing her perform those songs live and in person was just even better and all she had was her voice and a keyboard. It wasn’t just me who was blown away and loved her performance because the crowd was cheering her on when she’d hit an incredible riff/run and show out with her vocals. She performed songs from her recent debut EP Self/Less like “Going Down”, “Crazy”, “Congratulations”, and “Self/Less”. Along with a new song she performed on A COLORS SHOW called “Bleeding Me Dry”. In between her songs, she would tell a story that related to each song she sang in her set. Whether it was about heartbreak, relationship problems, or being selfish with you and your dreams. One story I liked especially was when she talked about having to leave home to go to Los Angeles to follow her dreams of being a singer. She had to explain that to her brother who’s autistic, who she’s extremely close to, and how hard that conversation was for her to have with him. Then, she said that sometimes we get so busy taking care of others that we forget to take care of ourselves. That when we finally do something for ourselves, we feel guilty and selfish but in the end, it’s actually selfless and it’s not a bad thing. I just appreciated that level of vulnerability and transparency from her. Everyone in the audience could relate to and/or feel each story she was telling, and she definitely gained new fans that night. 

Now it was Mahalia’s turn and she came out swinging and setting the tone/vibe for the show. Like Alicia, she too would tell a few stories in between her set for certain songs, and they’d range from heartbreak as well to flexing on haters who didn’t believe in her or her music. She performed a variety from her catalog and not just from her recent album IRL. I loved how candid and honest she was in regard to that because she stated that she didn’t like when artists would just perform new music. She kept up that honesty and openness throughout the show as well, and once again I loved that because it felt like we all knew her and were just listening to a friend. The way she engaged with the crowd during those moments you’d think that they were friends. She performed her hits like “Simmer”, “Do Not Disturb”, “Sober”, “Plastic Plants”, “Grateful”, and “Letter to Ur Ex” from past projects. Along with songs from her IRL album like “In My Bag”, “Terms and Conditions”, “Lose Lose”, “Cheat” ft JoJo, “It’s Not Me, It’s You” ft Destin Conrad, “IRL”, and “Isn’t It Strange?”. She even took a couple of requests from the crowd and she performed “BRB” and “No Pressure”. Then, closed the show out with two of her biggest hits  “What You Did” ft Ella Mai and “I Wish I Missed My Ex”. The latter was definitely a crowd favorite among others because everyone was hyped and singing along with it word for word and even louder than her. It was cute after she finished that song, she picked up a little girl from the audience, whom she had talked to earlier in the show, and had her wave at us and I think took a picture with her. Along with singing “Happy Birthday” to someone in the audience who had a birthday in the crowd. I just wished this concert would’ve lasted a little bit longer because it was such a good time and the environment was positive, intimate, and feel good. 

Overall, this concert was a 10/10 and was thoroughly a dope experience the whole night. Again the transparency from them both and their being unabashedly themselves, along with their amazing talent, made me become an even bigger fan of them. Now, of course, I wished certain songs got performed from Mahalia like “Wassup”, “Whenever You’re Ready”, and “Jealous”. Like just a few of the deep cuts/singles but I understand pressed for time. That’s why her shows should be a little bit longer because she has the hits to back it up. For Alicia, I know it’s just going to get bigger and better for her. For Mahalia, she should be proud of herself because R&B in the UK is definitely thriving especially over here in the States. Because they’re doing their thing over there for the genre from artists like herself, FLO, Raye, No Guidnce, Sinead Harnett, Hamzaa, JVCK JAMES, etc., the list goes on and on. Plus, she sounds so incredibly good live and her music is just as amazing because of her pouring all her love, vulnerability, and relatability into it. She’ll always be up there as one of the top R&B artists for me, and I hope throughout this tour she sees how much we love her artistry and music. Also, she never doubts who she is as an artist because she’s been killing it and showing why she too is keeping R&B alive and well.

Ebony Robinson

What’s up y’all! My name is Ebony Robinson, and I’m from Columbia, SC. I’m an alumni DJ and have been with WUSC for going on 6 years (a lot of semesters). My show is Holla If Ya Hear Me with Ebony Dionne, and I love all things Hip Hop and R&B especially the old school. I also love the old Disney Channel movies and cult classics like The Last Dragon. If you’re a fan of all of these things, then you’ll definitely love and enjoy my show!

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