The Austin Area Jazz Festival, held at the 360 Amphitheater in the Circuit of the Americas, was one of the main festivals I was looking forward to attending this year. However, as the day grew closer, the weather had me fearing the event could possibly be ruined. Thankfully, this was not in the plans. While there were threats of having a rainy Sunday, it didn’t work out that way. The skies were a wonderful shade of blue and the sun shined all day long.
As for the show itself, it was wonderful! I’ll be honest with you, the main act I wanted to see was the Grammy-nominated singer, Ledisi, who served as the headliner for the day-long festival. Sadly, I missed many of the day’s performers. I was, however, able to see legendary singer, Will Downing as well as Ledisi. So, I will just speak on those two performers.
Mr. Downing has been performing for quite some time and his show made it easy to see how he’s been able to stay around for so long. He controlled the crowd easily as he sung his classic songs as well as some of his more recent material. He easily went from singing baritone to a near-falsetto tone (sometimes in the same song) and the crowd loved it! Not only was Will amazing, but his band was as well. It was a great moment in the show when each one of them was given solo time to really showcase what they were capable of. If the performances of Will Downing and the band weren’t enough, he had a background singer, named Carol Riddick, who will be a star in the music industry. Her voice was amazing and that was put on display when she sung a duet with Will. It was great to see all of the couples in the crowd holding on to their loved ones as the song progressed. Will’s entire set just made everyone feel good and with the music that’s out today, making the audience feel good doesn’t always seem to be on the artist’s priority list.
Will left the stage and the crowd knew that Ledisi would soon be the one entertaining everyone. I don’t know about everyone else attending the show, but I had never seen Ledisi perform live, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I am a fan of her music, but great music doesn’t always equal a great show. In Ledisi’s case, as great as her music is, I now can tell you firsthand that it doesn’t compare at all to her live show! From the first note she sang, she grabbed ahold of the audience’s attention and she refused to let it go. She got so into the show, at one point, she left the stage while singing her hit “Pieces of Me” as she casually strolled throughout the crowd. She kept the song going as she inspired the women to not only support one another, but also not to worry about what other women are doing. Instead, she said for all of them to be confident in their walk and their actions. It was a great moment! I also thought it was wonderful that as she moved from the front row to the back, she told the security that they didn’t have to fear for her safety. She said on multiple occasions, “These are my people” and “I ain’t afraid of nobody here.” She said she just wanted to get closer to her supporters and entertain everybody and she certainly accomplished that. Her actions made me even more of a fan and I’m sure the same could be said for everyone there.
As you can tell, even though I wasn’t able to see everyone who performed during the festival, I still had a great time! The weather was great, the environment was relaxed, the staff was accommodating, the crowd was excited and had lots of energy and all of the performers were all on top of their game! This was my first year going, but if this year’s show was any indication of how things will be, then it will certainly not be my last!
Pictures and video courtesy of Global Genius Society Co-Founder and very talented photographer: Kokovisions