Written by | Ray Cornelius
There are singers and then there are “sangers.” You know who I’m talking about. The entertainers whose voices make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up or give you goosebumps every time their on the mic. The one’s that have you yelling out, “Ooh, that’s my shit!” in the middle of the song. It’s the kind of singing that causes you to throw your head back and raise your hands in the air even though you’re not at anybody’s church service. Well, that’s exactly what happened to me last night when I went to see soul music sanger Donnie perform his critically acclaimed album, The Colored Section.
The performance took place at Atlanta’s Vinyl at Center Stage and was packed with die-hard Donnie fans. For some reason, I thought the show was in celebration of the album’s 10th anniversary but realized instead that it’s been 14 years since its original release. However, the subject matter that he addresses in each song are still relevant issues today like homophobia, racism, sexism, classism and colorism. “I’m not a nigger I’m a negro, When I become a nigger I’ll let you know” from the song ‘Beautiful Me‘ are words that are just as meaningful in 2016 as they were in 2002.”
Who knew the lyrics from ‘Wildlife‘ would still be a haunting reality of today with all of the recent police shootings of African-American men? “And you call me a savage, uncivilized when it’s you who made lynching your way of life And you dont want me to be mad Well I’ll say too bad I’m a product of my environment So who the hell we call wildlife Look at us They only kill when they have to We kill for sport.”
But then there are songs from the album like ‘Our New National Anthem‘ that speak of hope and racial reconciliation. “Your hand, my hand, we can make it to the promised land I know we can show what it is to be truly American Your race my race, come together and have a taste of the new day for the remix Eventually the race dilemma we’ll fix and…”
Last night’s performance was also a very personal one for the singer, who admitted to the audience that he suffered from years of self hate and almost “snorted and smoked himself to death.” He also testified about coming to grips with his sexuality and how he forgave the pastor of his childhood church for years of bullying him from the pulpit. (Click here to listen)
But it was his moving performance of the album’s closing song, ‘The Colored Section‘ that brought everyone to tears. “We are the original people The alpha and omega of it all but We get the short end of the stick all of the time Welcome to the colored section See what it is to be me Sign your name on the black list and know this It’s American history…” At the end of the original song he mentions the names of civil rights pioneers, Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X but then added to last night’s rendition the names of Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner and Alton Sterling, referred to them as modern day martyrs.
Check out more amazing photos from last night’s show below. The evening also featured up-in-coming R&B/Pop singer JK Howells and Janelle Monae‘s new group—All Cows Eat Grass. The show was also presented by my friends The MuddyWater Group.
ALL COWS EAT GRASS
Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com