Chrisette Michele sings female anthems about empowerment and heartbreak, but men and women alike came to B.B King Blues Club on April 28 to see the 26-year-old singer perform material from her sophomore album, entitled “Epiphany” and due May 5.
After a performance by Jesse Boykins III, Michele opened her set with two songs from the new record and some favorites from her 2007 debut “I Am” (“Your Joy,” “Best of Me,” “Be O.K.”). It was clear which R&B hitmakers had collaborated with Michele on each track; “Epiphany” and “What You Do” have a similar vibe to Ne-Yo’s own work, while John Legend’s influence in “Love Is You” is palpable. But Michele made the material her own, thanks to her jazz-influenced scatting and powerful stage presence.
Michele often introduced each song by offering a neat summary of its theme: before singing “Best of Me,” she said, “This is my song about falling in love with an idiot”; and she introduced “Love Is You” by saying, “We [John Legend and I] were trying to come up with the definition of love.”
The singer also announced that the deluxe edition of “Epiphany” will feature excerpts of her poetry which, thematically speaking, has much in common with her music (“I left him with warm hugs / I left him with kisses / someone is going to appreciate me.”)
As if Michele’s performance weren’t deserving enough of that appreciation, Wanita “D. Woods” Woodgette [of Danity Kane fame] came onstage to praise her friend and tell fans to buy the album. Another surprise moment came during “Mr. Radio,” when Michele handed a microphone to a male fan in the audience and said, “Here. You look like you can sing.” The fan immediately grabbed it and followed with the next verse of the song, cueing applause from the audience.
Michele exited the stage after that song, but the audience hadn’t had enough of her yet. It sang “If I Had My Way” to convince the singer to come back for an encore, and she soon returned to perform a fan favorite, “Let’s Rock,” in which she confirms her influences by singing, “I’ve been studying Miss Billie [Holiday], Miss Ella / Miss Sarah Vaughn and Miss Natalie Cole.”
Here is Chrisette Michele’s setlist:
“Love Is You”
“Best of Me”
“Blame It on Me”
“What You Do”
“If I Have My Way”