When the opportunity presented itself to attend a Miki Howard concert, I honestly did not know what to expect. What I did know was that I was beyond excited to see such a legendary singer live for the first time in person. I have always heard tales about Howard and her exceptional singing abilities, as well as the issues that came with being a headstrong (and at times, marvelously defiant) soul singer in the late '80s/early '90s music industry era. I always yearned to hear more from Miki over the years, and with her recent appearance on Unung, live performances and news of a new album on the way, I threw on the cutest dress I could find, hopped in the car and headed over to Catalina Jazz Club on Sunset to find out more.
Catalina's -- one of the most upscale and notable jazz clubs left in Los Angeles -- is renown for its stellar musical lineups, intimate setting and sophisticated atmosphere. It felt wonderful to be there, as Catalina was the perfect setting to see this powerhouse live. Arriving just in time to see Miki's opening act finish up his set, I took my seat and ordered my first drink as Ms. Howard was properly introduced to her adoring fans. Dressed in a black ensemble with a sparkly ruffle skirt, perfectly coiffed hair and a tattoo sleeve on her right arm, Miki opened up her set by effortlessly belting out wonderful jazz classics like my personal favorites "Now or Never" and "All of Me." Afterwards, Miki took a seat on stage and shared with us how she just left the hospital a few days prior with a severe bronchial infection that required an IV and steroid treatment. After witty jokes about crowd participation and more lively banter, she thanked her band for standing by her in rehearsals, asked the audience for their forgiveness and patience if she forgot her setlist and resumed her set while sipping some warm tea.
After performing more stunning jazz standards like Billie Holiday's "My Man," a few audience requests, a church vamp break that invigorated the entire crowd and hilariously insisting that we get this on "the Facebook and Twitters," Miki made sure to hop into her own diverse discography and performed some of the favorites we all know and love. Singing energized versions of "Come Share My Love" and "Ain't Nobody Like You." Miki then turned the energy up full blast by starting perennial favorite "Love Under New Management," stepping off the stage mid-song, and personally serenading her fans while simultaneously posing for photos in between. After personal one-on-one time with the audience, Miki then stepped back on stage and informed the crowd that she is releasing her brand new album, Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, soon. Drawing energetic applause for her announcement, Miki then performed a bit of a new song live before closing out her set with an amazing cover of Sly & The Family Stone's "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" for an end to the perfect evening.
Quite honestly, I was blown away. I have to thank Ms. Howard personally, as it has been a while since I have experienced such energy and excitement from a small, intimate venue. Her personality and talent were enough to blow the roof off without effort or question. Congratulations to Ms. Miki for a wonderful show. I would also love to thank the staff at Catalina's and Shaun Ross for making sure everything was taken care of properly. Without a doubt, I cannot wait to see Ms. Howard live again. If you have a chance to do so yourself, please do not miss out!