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12 Apr 2019 6:04 PM
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On Wednesday night (April 10), I had the pleasure of being invited down to the SOLD-OUT Mahalia concert at O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire and it was such a treat. To kick things off, we were first delighted with the beautiful R&B tones of singer-songwriter JVCK JAMES, who did a cool mix of both up-tempo and chilled out tracks that instantly won over fans, both new and existing.   

At around 9pm, my excitement reached new heights as Mahalia finally graced the stage, which could only be described as “good vibes”. Laced with its chic set of hanging clouds, floor lanterns, and cute white flowers which wrapped around the star’s microphone stand, I instantly knew Mahalia was going to make this a night to remember.

The 21-year-old singer-songwriter from Leicester opened with an acoustic performance laced with live vocals and hypnotic poetry, showing off her vast vocal range and meticulous pen game.

 Throughout her set, the young star sang and performed like a seasoned pro.  This was clearly an artist who has a strong sense of self and maturity in her presence, voice, and songs. When looking at her music catalogue, it’s evident Mahalia has been through enough at her tender age to write and make music that resonates and connects on a universal level. I found myself vibing, almost crying, laughing and screaming like a super fan on a journey that made me reminisce about my own teenage years.     

Throughout the concert, we got to know Mahalia through both her conversations with fans, of which she has many, and her music.  She started writing at age 13, and now at the age of 21, she has 8 years of song writing experience under her belt and that experience shows.   

We were treated to a set of songs, both familiar and unfamiliar.  But it didn’t matter, and we didn’t care, because everybody in that space connected with every word and note Mahalia sang. And she didn’t just sing, she saaaang! To me, Mahalia is highly reminiscent of the equally talented Corinne Bailey Rae.  Both sharing raspy, sultry tones and an amazing range, I see why many feel their music serves as a nod the classic sound of the 60’s. 

After explaining that she lost her voice 3-days prior to the show, it was instantly clear that she need not have of even told us, because her voice sounded perfect, with the perfect amount of rasp.   

There were many standout moments during the evening. One moment that stood out to me was her performance of 'Silly Girl,' namely because of the enthralling story behind the song, and because it was stripped back with just her and her guitar for most of it. For me, nothing beats pure vocals, clever lyrics, and a guitar!  Another stand out moment was the surprise appearance from Kojey Radical who joined Mahalia to deliver a killer performance of their hit 'One Night Only.'  Their surprise performance went down a treat with the crowd, which was helped by their magnetic chemistry on stage and stellar vocals. 

Mahalia ended the gig with her biggest hit, 'I Wish I Missed My Ex,' and although it was hard to hear her vocals amongst the roar of cheers as the intro blasted through the venue,  her closing performance further solidified her status as one of the most exciting artists to emerge from the UK.

Author: Adi Alfa (@miss_alfa86)