Tuesday, July 12, 2005


The short version: I was able to open for Angie Stone last night ... and set the mic on fire!

The long version:

I know the publisher and editorial staff at Ya Heard Magazine and contacted them all last month about opening their Angie Stone concert. "Yada, yada, get back to you, yada." Their follow-up was "Hey, we'll do a poetry pre-show!"

Umm. No?

I gave them my unsolicited feedback about why I didn't think that idea was right for this event. "Yada, yada ..." It was a wrap, in my book. I tried, right?

Then I get an email around 4 hours before concert time from a sista I know telling me she's looking forward to seeing me at the pre-show party?

"Cool, see you there!" I say.

Next: "Hello? I'm ... performing ... for you tonight, I hear?"

Apologies. Explanations. Directions. Shuffling schedules with husband. Secure babysitter. Pizza Hut instead of teriyaki chicken. Staring into the closet. Pack CDs and children. Race.

The pre-show had actually been morphed into a sponsored "VIP" reception (those Ya Heard folks are pretty smart, turns out) with about 20 very important people (must be ...). I was one of three artists (singer and another poet) and went last. As the lights flickered to signal showtime, I asked the publisher if there was any chance I might make the main stage.

"Yada, yada, yada, maybe, yada ..."

Worse case, I decide, I'm VIP all up in the front section ... letting myself backstage ... sipping on free wine and beer ... who's complaining?

The first opening act was the singer from the pre-party, a gospel singer named Tony Neal (no, not the deejay ... he's still a heathen, I think, like me : ). The second was the next smoking act to come out of Milwaukee: a band called Growing Nation. (The other smoking act, btw, will be Black Elephant!) I was taking mental notes of every aspect of their show, so when they're on TV accepting their third Grammy, I can "remember when."

Midway through, I get a tap on my shoulder. They NEED me. Who doesn't like the sound of that? I saunter back stage, call my husband and my sister from the bathroom like a groupie, and get in my zone. Growing Nation finishes their set. The audience has an intermission while the stage gets broken down. The host, Fidel, gives me this wonderful queen-of-poetry introduction. Now it's on.

I did Lady Red Boots, Been So Long and Kiss. It was, by far, one of my best performances ever. Something about the lights ... big ol stage ... having cosmic "permission" to let it all hang ... all eyes/ears on you ... no one waiting to be next on the open mic list ... the performance felt wonderful.

Best part, Fidel introduced Angie in the same breath as he closed my set. So, I literally opened for Angie Stone!

Okay, you ask, hasn't that been on your bio for, like, ever? Isn't this your second time opening for her? No, glad you asked. I was invited (yep, the bio always said "invited") to open for Angie Stone a few years ago, but the show was cancelled the week before.

So, in addition, to ripping the mic for a great crowd and national recording star, my bio has been vindicated!