As the smell of fried fish circulated Springfield Park, the Queens field bustled with amateur vendors selling desserts and nutcrackers (modern moonshine) anticipating a big turnout. They had good reason; Grammy winner Chrisette Michele was gracing the stage. Warmed up by the July humidity and 1980’s hit-makers the Force MDs (“Tender Love”), 5,000 plus were ripe to hear the 28-year-old chanteuse’s jazz/soul-tinged true life tales of overcoming heartache, much in the tradition of her influences, be it Billie Holiday or Erykah Badu.
Michele possesses a voice unlike any other female in today’s R&B, emanating a timbre as smoky as the flaming charcoal cooking the seafood in the wings. The audience watched in awe, of both her gorgeous gift and lovely face, holding their breath for 90 minutes while she ran through hits like “Be Ok,” and “Epiphany (I’m Leaving).” However, unsatisfied with her usual vocal caresses, Michele wowed the crowd with a rousing rendition of modern gospel standard “Total Praise,” recalling the gospel revival of Springfield Park’s Hezekiah Walker concert from the previous evening. The charm that has given Michele her fame was in full bloom at this SummerStage event, undoubtedly increasing her ascension into the realm of elite singers.
Photo by Matthew Allen