The Hampton Jazz FestivalBy Joe Daniels / June 29, 2018
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HAMPTON, VA. – Grammy winner “Uncle Charlie,” better known as Charlie Wilson, was Friday’s featured headliner at the Hampton Jazz Festival. Wilson opened with the high energy, toe-tapping, get up and dance song, “Party Train.” He continued with a melody of hits like “Charlie, Last Name Wilson,” “Everybody Have a Good Time,” and “There Goes My Baby.” Wilson closed his set proclaiming to the audience, “I have had two knee operations, back surgery, prostate cancer and I am still here, I’m Blessed.” “I’m Blessed” is also a tune from Wilson’s latest CD, “In It to Win It.”
Saturday night’s headliner, Frankie Beverly, donned his signature all-white attire with the group Maze. The party was on as Maze, featuring Frankie Beverly took the audience on a trip through popular hits like “Joy and Pain,” “Silky Soul,” and “Running Away.”
Saxophonist Kenneth Bruce Gorelick aka Kenny G headlined Sunday’s performances. Did you know that as a high school senior in 1973 Kenny G was a saxophone sideman for Barry White and the Love Unlimited Orchestra? Since then, Kenny G has written and performed a plethora of hits like “Faith,” “Do Not Make Me Wait For Love,” and “Songbird.” This saxophonist has grossed more than $75 million in CD sales and he has produced movie soundtracks for screen gems such as “The Bodyguard” and “Dying Young.” Sunday, he played songs from his CD titled “Breathless.”
Other noteworthy performers included Denise Nicole White – better known as the pianist and singer-songwriter Avery Sunshine. “I want people to get my music. I don’t want them to have to decipher some code to understand where I’m coming from.”
Funk and R&B group Lakeside took the audience on a trip back to the early 70’s and 80’s with their hits “Shot of Love,” “It’s All the Way Live,” and “Fantastic Voyage.”
Kustom Made, a group comprised of 12 members featuring vocalist Sheila Holman and founded by Tony Johnson, also put on an entertaining set. Johnson said, “I wanted to give people the experience of a national act without the national price. I wanted to create an act that had zero sacrifice in talent.” The group featured cover performances of hits by The Temptations, The Four Tops as well as Gladys Knight. Jazz festival attendees were also treated to performances by jazz vocalist Gregory Porter; R&B groups Boyz II Men, Con Funk Shun, Xscap3 and vocalists Lalah Hathaway and Jazmine Sullivan.
The 51st Annual Hampton Jazz Festival serves as a fundraiser for Hampton University (ticket sales). This year’s three-day event, held at the Hampton Coliseum, attracted more than 21,000 people. The city’s convention and visitors bureau estimates the jazz festival’s economic impact at $3.1 million.