Up Close: Kandi Burruss
By Souleo I really like Kandi Burruss. She is a talented songwriter who has crafted hits for TLC ("No Scrubs"), Destiny's Child ("Bills, Bills, Bills") and others. She has a soulful and gritty voice with a solid range as proven during her days as a member of the girl group, Xscape. And, she comes across as down-to-earth and perhaps the sanest member of Bravo's reality TV show, "The Real Housewives of Atlanta." Yet, as proven during her live set at S.O.B.'s last night in New York City for her album release of Kandi Koated, all of the aforementioned ingredients don't hide a few glaring needs for improvement.
One of the downsides included her background singers. The four women (which was one too many) were unprepared for their opening choreographed routine. One member appeared to be quite lost during the opening as her moves were not paced properly. While the singers were trying to ooze sex appeal their stage outfits fell quite short looking more like something sewn together backstage with leftover material from the fabric store.
Still, the women did deliver solid supporting vocals which were much needed since Kandi's voice was hoarse during the night. Despite not being in tip-top vocal form, Kandi still ran circles around most of today's so-called singers. She skillfully maneuvered around notes and injected just the right amount of soul punch into her delivery.
Highlights from her set included the Ne-Yo written and produced track, "Me & U," which samples Outkast's "Elevators," and a throwback to her Xscape days with "Just Kickin' It," and "My Little Secret." Upon hearing the latter two tracks the crowd cheered in reminiscence of the good old '90's R&B.
Kandi's set could have greatly benefitted from a live band since her voice is rich and deserving of a more organic sound as opposed to singing over tracks. But band or no band, Kandi proved that her vocals alone can captivate with her acapella rendition of "Haven't Loved Right," in honor of her deceased former fiancé, Ashley Jewell. The performance demonstrated the best of Kandi: powerful vocals, honest and relatable lyrics and a command of the stage.
With fewer background singers, better stage outfits, more solid material and a live band Kandi's live set could rival the best in the business. Here's hoping she gets the memo.