American Idol winner Fantasia Taylor brought some holiday cheer and a whole heap of her charming personality to the Peabody Opera House with her “Christmas After Midnight” tour. Actress/singer Demetria McKinney opened the show.
McKinney, best known for her run on Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and her stint on Real Housewives of Atlanta, sang mostly cover versions of R&B classics. Her performances of Chaka Kahn’s “Ain’t Nobody,” Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love,” and Whitney Houston’s “I’m Every Woman” sparkled and shined with her impressive vocals. McKinney can wail, which she showcased with her latest single, “Easy,” from her album Officially Yours. McKinney charmed the crowd with her bubbly personality and sparkly red jumpsuit. She closed out her set with the song she featured on the Housewives franchise, “100.” Overall, McKinney impressed the crowd with her passion for music and stimulating vocals.
With a simple stage setting of four Christmas trees and presents placed around the stage, Fantasia took to the stage in a stunning black and gold gown. Greeting the crowd by telling them this wasn’t going to be a usual Fantasia concert, she launched into a jazzy rendition of Frank Loesser’s “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” Fantasia’s vocals were both authentic and refined. She paid homage to the classic song with respect and maturity.
Next up, she took on Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. Her performance of “In the Wee Small Hours” was captivating. Once again, she could have “made it her own” by giving the song lyrical runs and affectations, but she played it cool and gave her performance a sense of enchantment.
In between songs, she regaled the audience with stories of her family. Most notably, she talked about her grandparents, which she did with great affection and reverence. Not all the stories were flattering, but that was part of the charm of her storytelling. Each story served as a launchpad into her next song.
Songs like “Sleeping with The One I Love,” James Brown’s “Santa Claus Go Straight to The Ghetto,” and “Bittersweet” all illustrated her stories perfectly. Each of these performances was crammed full of genuine emotion and Fantasia’s signature sound.
In addition to her family stories, Fantasia also spoke about her own personal struggles and how the media loved to drag her through the mud. Even though all these trials, she spoke of her triumphs and how show proved everyone wrong by proving there is nothing she can’t do, a sentiment she wanted the audience to remember. She said people didn’t think she could win Idol, but then she did; she couldn’t perform on Broadway, but then she did. It was a story of inspiring perseverance.
Mixing in some her own tracks such as the inspiring “Lose to Win,” “Collard Greens & Cornbread,” and “When I See U,” she also went back to the legends and performed rousing renditions of The Jackson 5’s “Give Love on Christmas Day” and got the crowd dancing with E.U.’s “Da Butt.”
After encouraging everyone to love one another and to drop grudges, a choir joined the singer onstage and Fantasia took the crowd to church. Her performance of “Hallelujah”—arguably one of Leonard Cohen’s best—moved the singer herself to tears as she infused the classic with an amazing amount of soul and worship. Following that up with an emotional performance of “Agnus Dei,” the singer even made this heathen’s heart swell. That is Fantasia’s charm—she keeps it real. Her commitment to giving her performance every ounce of her soul is overwhelming. She was authentically feeling the music and the crowd responded by giving that love right back – it was a beautiful exchange to witness.
Closing out her set with Donny Hathaway’s holiday classic “This Christmas” Fantasia’s set was full of energy, emotion, and love. Some of the takeaways from her concert are: stay away from the brown liquor, family is what matters most, and never—even for a second—doubt that there is anything this talented performer can’t accomplish. │ Jim Ryan