Written By | Rita Harper
State Farm Arena, formally known as Phillips Arena, is an enormous venue that can seat up to 21,000 people, is home to the illustrious Atlanta Hawks, and on this special night they were the host to the monumental RNB Forever showcase.
Featuring legendary acts such Boyz 2 Men, Johnny Gill, En Vogue, Ralph Tresvant, Black Street, and Dru Hill, this night was one that was unforgettable for lifelong fans. All of these acts honed and pioneered the sound of 90’s rnb that the world so nostalgically loves.
The first opener of the show is none other than the legendary Karyn White. She comes out in a vivacious high-energy fashion, with two back up singers sporting bob cuts and leotards. Her beautiful, powerful voice fills the arena and fans sing along in excitement. She performs her hit single “Superwoman”, and everyone is on there feet, singing the ballad word for word.
After a brief intermission with old school jazz being played on the speakers, Dru Hill makes a dash to the stage and they are welcomed with wild applause from the audience. They waste no time going into a fast rendition of “Sleeping in My Bed”. Although the group has not been together for quite some time, it was completely unnoticeable as they hit choreography together seamlessly and sing in perfect harmony together. To the crowds delight, the lead singer of the group Sisqo, performed his timeless classic, “Thong Song “with a fun dance break to match.
Next to the stage was the incomparable, sensually sophisticated En Vogue. Often compared to “The Supremes” this powerhouse group of vocalists did not disappoint. Not missing a beat, and being in effortless unison with each other, it felt as if we time traveled and were watching this performance in 1991. They belted their smash hits “Never Gonna Get It” and “Don’t Let Go” under dazzling blue and purple neon lights, with a band playing along making the performance both visually and sonically amazing to watch.
Next, was a pleasant twist in the showcase. Legendary Dj Kid Capri makes an appearance and gave the crowd the ultimate high speed, diverse dj set. Covering all regions and time periods, he played classic cuts such as DMX “Lose My Mind”, to Master Ps “Make Em Say Uhh”, and an Atlanta delight “Dance No Mo”. The arena went into full party mode, and for delivering such electric energy; he received a standing ovation after this set.
Kid Capri then brings out the next act, which is BlackStreet. BlackStreet is an iconic edgy male rnb group of the 90s. They make a debonair appearance to the stage crooning hit songs such as “Don’t Leave”, and “No Diggity”. Leaving the room with chills, and feelings of nostalgic bliss.
Kid Capri then makes another appearance to introduce the next highly anticipated performance from the most legendary, iconic male band of the 90s, Boyz II Men. Boyz II Men is an Rnb group from the heart of Philadelphia known for acappella harmonies and emotional ballads that pull at the heartstrings.
In surprising fashion, Boyz II Men burst to the stage performing “Motown Philly” a classic upbeat new jack swing infused track with 1970’s Philly soul influence. The lights are interchanging, and Boy II Men are performing the exact choreography they swung to when the song first debuted in 1991. The connection made with the crowd was undeniable, as fans danced along and sang their hearts out with the band of there 90s dreams.
In an intimate moment with the crowd, the band pulls out the three stools, they all take a seat and begin singing “So Hard To Say Goodbye”, an emotionally moving moment complimented by the tone and range of Boyz II Men, proved that still in 2018 they are contenders for being top vocalists.
They perform their emotionally tugging introspective records such as “Dear Mama” which had the crowd, (including myself), in a tear induced state of intense joy and thoughtfulness. They perform “Bended Knee” a plea to the woman they admire for just one more chance to prove their love.
As they sing their hit classic “I’ll Make Love To You”, the band bring out bouquets of roses, and throw them lovingly to the women in the crowd. A beautiful romantic gesture that I’m sure will remain on the hearts of the fans forever.
To the end the showcase, two members of iconic Rnb male group New Edition hit the stage one at a time.
First, Johnny Gill makes a rambunctious flee to the stage equipped with dancers in silver sequined robes to match his electric soulful flare. Entertaining to say the least, he plays the bongo drum set working up a set and enticing the crowd. His energy is through the roof and it becomes contagious in the arena.
Ralph Tresvant then makes a smooth, charismatic appearance to the stage, joining his former New Edition comrade in singing the timeless ballad “Can You Stand the Rain”. A song that encompasses the hardships and resilience of relationships. The entire arena is swaying back and forth to the lyrics that have stood the test of time and have much relevancy today. This was the perfect ending to a trip back in time, when songs were emotionally charged, sung in perfect harmony and conviction, and rocked your heart and emotional state to the core. The golden age of Rnb.