Industry execs and fans packed into New York’s R&B Spotlight Live last night for special performances anchored by Ashanti, Lloyd and Ryan Leslie.
The show began with two songstresses Suai and Gritz. Clad in a stripped tank dress, Suai, a new artist on Universal Records, sang several songs while playing the keyboard. Rich alto Gritz followed — flanked by three back-up singers, a guitarist, drummer and keyboardist — and belted out three songs.
Producer-cum-singer Ryan Leslie was third on the bill, and certainly the most exciting. Replacing the three background singers and pianist with a horn section and a keyboard for himself, Leslie commandeered the crowd in dark shades, jeans and a sparkly black button-up shirt. Beginning with his track, “I’m Emotional,” Leslie told the crowd “If I die on this stage tonight, it’s because I gave you everything I’ve got.” Singing “Irina,” Leslie ended with “Diamong Girl” to cheers and a standing ovation from the entertainment industry crowd that included Gail King, Universal executive VP and Motown president Sylvia Rhone and The Inc CEO Irv Gotti.
Atlanta-native Lloyd was next and kicked off with his 2007 hit, “You.” Running through several songs including “Get It Shawty,” the singer performed his new single “How We Do It.”
Ashanti ended the night’s performances clad in a glittering black dress and sharp strappy stilettos. Slated to release her upcoming album, “The Declaration,” on June 3, she opened her set with a DJ, who played her previous hits like “What’s Love” and “Foolish.” Then Ashanti took the stage and sang “Happy” as well as her new single, “The Way That I Love You.”