Dear Selah Sue,
I’m not much of a club person. I don’t enjoy loud music when I’m at a bar. Clubs are for dancing. And, to be honest, when the lights dim and the music blares, I don’t enjoy bustin’ a move. The truth is, I can’t dance very well. My attempts always come off as just another white guy twirling his fingers to that month’s top 40. Or, sitting in the corner sipping a cheap beer that was too expensive for my taste. Bars are for telling naughty jokes and drinking too many draft beers – two activities where I exceed expectations. Why am I telling you this? Because, for some strange reason, I was under the impression your concert in Vancouver was at The Vogue Theatre. A cozy theatre with chairs. I was mistaken. The venue, which I discovered on the morning of your show, was a nearby club with an original name – Venue.
I had apprehensions about the Venue being the venue. My apprehensions can be explained by the reason stated above, but it didn’t take too long before I realized the error of my ways. It’s not the venue that determines the atmosphere, but the crowd and the music. Duh, Thomas. I thought about it for some time (not too long) and figured that Venue was a great locale for your type of music. The floor had groove room and the walls were lined with a blue hue. Sort of a funky design for your brand of music: an urban, hip hop, reggae, folk fusion.
Starting off the set with a new song was a great way to break in a show; it helps equalize the audience. New fans don’t have to feel awkward about not knowing the lyrics and old fans always love new material. It’s a no-brainer, really. If you have new material, that is, which, you did. It was a simple song that showed off your voice and served as an excellent ice-breaker. Good call.
You performed two songs in a row on the acoustic guitar to begin. Stripped-down songs with a single green spotlight. It was raw and extremely honest. If I had any human emotion, a single tear would have trickled down my cheek. But I don’t, so I just dragged my finger down my face ever so slowly. All the girlfriends attached to their boyfriends in close proximity threw a stink eye in my direction. They thought I was mocking them, but all I was doing was expressing myself! I was harnessing the honesty that you emitted from the stage. They didn’t buy it.
Regardless of the amount of concert couples surrounding me, the crowd was energized. The attendees were all stoked to see you perform. Somebody even presented you with a classy necklace. Most likely, to match your classy outfit. A simple black dress with a white cardigan. Elegant, yet sexy in a I-want-to-get-to-know-you-over-a-glass-of-wine-or-tea-depending-on-the-day way. How you managed to move around the stage and pull off any sort of dancing in heels is bewildering to me. Well done.
After the tears had dried up, your band joined you on stage. Selah, let me tell you something – you picked one heck of a band to join you on tour. Shout-out to the bass player (I forget his name, forgive me) for slapping one of the dirtiest bass solos I have ever heard in my life. Don’t ever let him leave the band. His fingers are magic and should be admired (even insured). His bass face could use some work, though. That, however, is a completely different conversation. All the others deserve shout-outs, but the bass player really stood out for me. Keep him around.The band really brought your music to life. The beat traveled from the stage, through the floor, and into my body. Up until this point, all I’ve heard from you had been simple recordings from your earlier sets. Samples similar to the first two songs of your set. So, you can imagine, I was excited to hear your songs with a professional band.
When I try to explain your music to people I know, the names “Lauryn Hill” and “Amy Winehouse” come to mind. You rap with a good flow, and have an incredible vocal range with a jazzy feel. Some of the higher notes you pulled off during your set (for example: “Peace of Mind”, “Fyah Fyah”) surpassed anything I thought would be within your range. My expectations were thrown overboard. You’re part of that special group of recording artists who sound better live rather than recorded – the way it should be.
The entire set was well-balanced with soft ballads injected between your bass-heavy hits (“This World”, “Crazy Vibes”). For your first headlining tour in North America, you had a good feel on how to make us bounce and shake. A bubbly stage presence, moving from one side to the other as your arms twisted slowly to the beat of the music. A big smile stamped on your face throughout the night really gave off an impression of authenticity: a quality I admire in any type of artist. A quality that really rubs off on an audience when noticeable.
You’re on to something, Selah. A pretty girl from Belgium putting out this type of hip hop, jazz, rock fusion hasn’t been done before. It‘s fresh. Your influences are apparent in the words and the music; yet, you still manage to hold a very distinct identity. You’re very aware of your surroundings and, more importantly, of yourself.
Come back to Vancouver soon. Female artists such as yourself are scarce in the Pacific Northwest, and we welcome visits with wide open ears. Especially, when they display a passion and talent as raw and real as yours. Plus, your accent is cute. I would watch you in any club, no question.