Last night marked the much-appreciated and anticipated return of Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Emily King to our great city of Atlanta. In case you missed it, here are seven reasons why attending The Seven EP singer’s show at Vinyl at Center Stage was fantastic and unforgettable:
1. The audience
Never have I been part of an audience more laid-back, accommodating and enthusiastic than the group that gathered for this show. The fact that it was announced at the door that the show had sold out was a clear sign that there was going to be at least some struggle for standing room. However, when I needed to move somewhere, people not only moved and allowed me to pass, but also helped me get to where I needed to be. As Michael Jackson’s HIStory played before and after acts, people not only sang along, but also interacted and danced with one another. Though there were a lot of big, natural hairstyles in the house, people not only turned and asked audience members directly behind them if they could see, but also moved as far to the side as they could to try to accommodate their neighbors.
No one was pushy. No one was rude. The only profanity tossed into the atmosphere was completely complimentary and offered to the performers as praise.
As far as music fans go, the audience members could not have been more of a joy. Before starting every song on Emily King’s set list with fervent applause, the crowd was also engaged and supportive of King’s openers – local talents India Shawn and Anthony David. Those who knew the artists’ music sang along. Those who were unfamiliar offered vocal praise and encouragement.
The common factor between all of the audience members last night was a spirited love for Emily King and any and all good music. This made for an incredible atmosphere and concert-going experience.
2. The venue
Vinyl is quaint. It is essentially a bar with a small stage at the front of the venue. Empty, it feels like a comfortable neighborhood spot where one can go to enjoy a drink and/or conversation in peace. Full, it feels a bit less comfortable, but can maintain a sense of intimacy. Because the space is limited, a full house means that it is inevitable that patrons will essentially be on top of one another. Even in the midst of a crowd not as amazing as the one present last night, one can still feel a connection with the artist. Because the audience was made up of a great group of people last night, the size of the venue intensified the experience and was reminiscent of a house party.
3. India Shawn
Opening up first for Emily King was the talented, Los Angeles born singer-songwriter, India Shawn. She performed a number of songs from her impressive solo EP, 2012’s Origin, including “All I Have”, “Sinking In” and “I’m Alive”, a song that also appears on Solange Knowles-curated Saint Heron compilation album. Shawn also debuted a song from Outer Limits, her upcoming collaborative project with singer-songwriter-producer and certified hit-maker James Fauntleroy. (Separately, the two have very impressive résumés. Fauntleroy has worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry and has most recently had success as a co-writer on Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience, Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail and J. Cole’s Born Sinner, while India Shawn has written for artists such as Chris Brown, El Debarge and Monica).
Her unique cover of Frank Ocean’s “We All Try”, as well as the performances of her music from Origin, were greeted with unbridled enthusiasm. To promote her upcoming single, “Floating Away”, she and her team handed out small business cards tied to balloons after the show. For more on India Shawn, you can check out her Soundcloud.
4. Anthony David
The second opener was the Savannah-born, Atlanta-based, Grammy-nominated Anthony David. Armed with only a guitar, his voice and a microphone, David delivered an exceptional and diverse, crowd-pleasing show. His set was full of his own popular original songs, including “Body Language” and “4evermore” as well as a couple of new tunes, covers and mash-ups. His performances of Carl Thomas’s “I Wish” and a fantastic mix of The Isley Brothers’s “Footsteps In The Dark” and Ice Cube’s “Today Was A Good Day” elicited especially zealous responses from the audience.
In addition to releasing his own music, David has written for India.Arie among other things and continues to make strides in the music business. He performs in Atlanta quite a bit, so if you are interested, you can listen to him on your music-streaming platform of choice and keep up with him via Twitter.
- The old(er) songs
Headliner Emily King has not released an EP/LP since 2011’s critically acclaimed The Seven EP and before that, 2007’s East Side Story, but the audience’s love for her work was unmistakable. King and her band performed each tune with soul and energy that assured that the tunes sounded just as good three and seven years after their original releases. Every song evoked an incredibly positive response, but The Seven EP fan favorites such as “Down”, “Radio”, “Every Part” and – appropriately – “Georgia” earned the most acclaim. Additionally, there was no hesitation on the audience’s part when it came to singing along to tunes from her debut album. “Walk In My Shoes” and “U & I”, both released on her 2007 LP, were also sung word for word and ad lib for ad lib.
- The new(er) songs
The set list was enhanced with stellar songs released between projects, including 2011’s “In My Evolution”, 2012’s “Ordinary Heart” and this year’s “Distance”.
- Emily is just Emily
As a recording artist, Emily King is a very welcome breath of fresh air. From her carefully coiffed hair to her unique, yet intriguing, attire, King fits into no one’s category but her own. The same holds true for her as a performer. Watching her perform means watching someone who truly places her love for music above all else. She is professional on stage, but she is never boring. She puts effort into her singing, but it is never overdone. She expresses her gratitude for any and all positive feedback, but it is never contrived.
Being an independent artist is tough. Through the struggles she undoubtedly has, she remains true to herself and her artistry, which is definitely the icing on top of the cake.
It is also the type of thing that, in addition to the love and passion for her music and message, will bring Atlanta to give her another sold out show the next time she comes into town.
Khylen is currently still getting all of her life to the Emily King, India Shawn + Anthony David music on her iPod. To talk more music, upcoming concerts, you can tweet me on the Twitter RIGHT CHEA.
– Khylen Steward, CBS Local