R&B continues to be subjected to a mystical discourse centred around its "death". Despite platforms such as ours, RnB Radar, The Blue Project Co, Soul Surge and many more continuously championing the R&B stars of today, this conversation continues to creep up out of the woodworks every new moon.
Good Morning, UK R&B is “dead” and its not because of the people, it’s because of the artists. Thank you.
Instead of spending this article justifying why R&B will continue to take reign on our playlists, this Black In: Music, we're shining a spotlight on some outstanding talents and their live performances; celebrating their pen and the fact that they do have the range.
1. Lianne La Havas - Please Don't Make Me Cry - Radio 1 Piano Session
Lianna La Havas's honey-toned vocals set a scene of intimacy by performing a slick back version of 'Please Don't Make Me Cry'. Coming from her self-titled project Lianne La Havas, this live rendition of 'Please Don't Make Me Cry' carries a simplicity from the piano chords, which take on multiple textures of vulnerability but also bursts of explosions through La Havas's voice. On Genius, the artist said, "This is a loop, and it's nice because I got to explore that hip-hop way of writing, that R&B, which I love. I grew up on all of that stuff. I love how it makes me sing too."
2. JVCK JAMES - Basement (Live Performance)
Choreography in R&B is slowly making a much-needed return within the scene, and JVCK JAMES is a worthy contributor to this occurrence. JAMES' charisma shines through in many of his live performances, as seen in the visuals above. He ensures an experience every time. His confidence mirrors those who came before him while demonstrating he is here for the long run and is about it.
3. Bellah - Garden (Live) | Vevo DSCVR
It's always satisfying when the live version sounds just as good as the studio record, if not better. Bellah's recent release of 'Garden' for Vevo DSCVR continues to solidify the songstress's guaranteed spot in stardom. Her delicacy remains intact, demonstrating her powerful vocal range, leaving viewers to latch onto every last word.
4. Karl Benjamin x Omaar - Moon [Live]
A lush lullaby between two generations of R&B entwining into melodic bliss. Karl Benjamin and THE Omar give us this smooth duet. A song underlines the euphoric sensations of delving into something new with that special someone. 'Moon' exposes sensations of excitement as desires deepen into something potentially long-lasting. Benjamin told CLASH: "'Moon', to me, is about the adventure you go through to finally arrive at the most intimate moment within the relationship you treasure most." As the studio version samples Omar's iconic 'There's Nothing Like This', this performance is one where we witness artists give their heroes flowers while they're still here.
5. Shaé Universe - Floetry Say Yes Cover Medley | UNCOVRD Part 1 (Live Session)
Husky, smokey tones serenade you as you enter another dimension for a Neo-Soul classic. Shaé Universe's version of 'Say Yes' exhibits how she effortlessly puts her own whirl on a song cherished by many. Aided by a band that matches her fly, this charms viewers (like me) as the band transitions into Shae Universe's 'Meant To Be'. The distinction of themes between the two songs, from a yearnful partnership to flourishing into independence, provides a story many of us can relate to.
6. Reuben James - LIVE | Sofar London | Amplified Sessions
Indulge the next 25 minutes into a realm of pure funk. Despite the intimate Sofar Sound setting, Reuben James's stage presence is electrifying as you watch him radiate within his element. His live band does a brilliant job of matching his energy as he performs. You can't go wrong with a stellar TRUMPET solo and a "keys solo" while the band and James maintain a chilled demeanour. Performing 'So Cool', 'Everybody Loves The Sunshine' cover and 'BBQ Energy' this quarter of an hour is sure to trap you into a head-bobbing daze.
7. Soulection Radio Sessions: Children of Zeus
A soulful trippy adventure. Children of Zeus's Soulection Radio Session simply illustrates this duo's gratifying ability to create a journey through incredible lyricism and velvet-fused vocals. 'Vibrations' and 'No Strings Attached' this doesn't even scratch the surface of the level of talent both members of the group consist of.
8. Sinead Harnett performs "Where You Been Hiding" | The TERREL Show Live
There's no denying that Sinead Harnett will always ensure to give us a passionate production. Performing 'Where You Been Hiding', the live band elevates Harnett's vocalising. What starts as a smooth, slick ensemble soon evolves into a thrilling soundscape of her voice ripening amongst the live instruments. The writing and musical arrangement are fiercely impressive, and Harnett's performance accommodates just as well.
9. FLO - Immature (Live) | Vevo DSCVR
We would have done this list a disservice if we didn't include this emerging talented trio! FLO is currently taking the world by storm with anticipation of taking world domination. Jorja Douglas, Stella Quaresma, and Renée Downer's use of harmonisation continuously leaves us awestruck and wanting more. Currently owning the R&B-pop space, performances like this one are embraced as they showcase that they have studied the greats from Brandy to Beyonce.
10. Scribz Riley - I Lied (Live) | Vevo DSCVR Artists to Watch 2021
We're closing our list with none other than Scribz Riley with this heartfelt 'I LIED' performance. From the first listen, the vocal arrangements between Riley and the backing singers reveal an echoing conversation of self-acceptance and accountability, explained further in the lyrics. Partnered up with the piano and bass, vulnerability takes centre stage. Scribz Riley's 'I Lied [Part 1]' is a performance highlighting the chilling realisation of how conjured lies can distort our sense of reality, keeping us in our delusions.
We know we're only scratching the surface with this list. There are so many talented artists across the globe we'd love to cover, what are your favourite live performances that you think we should know about?