Janet Jackson Remembers Her Father at Essence

{Updated] Keeping the fans in the Superdome has been a challenge for the acts that close the Essence Festival, but Janet Jackson didn’t start to hemorrhage audience members until a lengthy mid-set DJ break. That ended with the band playing “Let’s Wait a While” as an instrumental, which fans took as a chance to sing or leave. Still, once she was back onstage and performing, the exodus slowed significantly.

Voodoo News: Benjamin Booker Breaks Boundaries

Benjamin Booker’s sound is tougher to pin down than it used to be. His first, self-titled album was a high-powered gut punch, 44 minutes of harsh, low-fi blues punk that blew the world away with its raw explosiveness. His latest project, Witness, which came out in June, is a different animal entirely. It’s tamer in terms of unchecked energy, but sonically, it’s much more adventurous. Booker is bringing his new songs to Voodoo, where he’ll play the South Course stage at 6 p.m. Friday.

Thundercat Drops "Drunk" Before Buku, While Benjamin Booker Bears Witness

Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner is one of the best bassists in the universe, but he is arguably better known as a goof than a god. His bromance with Eric Andre, his absurdist Adult Swim-style videos and the fact that he’s usually dressed like he’s on his way from a Renaissance fare to a cosplay convention only exacerbate the situation.

Last Night: Chance the Rapper Held a Furry Convention at Mardi Gras World

Chance the Rapper has become America’s hip-hop sweetheart. From Kanye West to Rahm Emanuel to President Obama himself, everyone loves the guy. It’s not hard to see why. Chance is a positive (almost too positive) voice in a genre that often revels in violence and sexism. More importantly, he’s one of the only positive voices in hip-hop capable of actually connecting with an audience that's often skeptical of positivity.

The Zion Harmonizers Bring in the Sheaves at 75

One of my best experiences as moderator for The Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s “Ogden After Hours” series came when interviewing The Zion Harmonizers about how they work up songs for their repertoire. I was sitting in the middle of them as they sang around me, and it was remarkable not because their voices were so special, but because of the sense of musical community in their performance.

The Como Mamas Share an Understanding

In my last years at OffBeat, I became reluctant to review or run comments on Gospel Tent performances during Jazz Fest. Writers and I often heard irony in secular covers adapted to spiritual purposes, and "authenticity" in performances that were enthusiastic to the point of out of control. We heard complex, sometimes ambiguous musical statements from people who didn't think of their music in those terms, and that doesn't mean we were wrong - only that we brought different values as listeners to the experience than they brought as performers.

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