Carlita Loves Music

Come with me on my musical journey…

My thoughts on the 2014 Grammy nods December 7, 2013

Filed under: Music — carlitasconcerts @ 8:12 pm

So it’s that time of year around here again. Here being LA and time of year being awards season. After attending the Latin Grammys a few weeks ago, I was curious what lie ahead for the 2014 Grammy nominations. After the Grammys foolishly decided again not to make their nomination concert nor their ceremony in real time, I relied on the East Coast media outlets to inform me of developments. Forget the fact that over 30 million people live in California, we can all wait to have the shows rebroadcast as old and irrelevant news, hours after the East Coast. Bitter much? Perhaps.

Before the noms came out, I knew pop giants Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry would be in the mix. I did not think “20/20″ was a candidate for “Album of The Year” and it looks like the Recording Academy agreed with me. Point blank, it was good but not as good as “Future Sex/Love Sounds” nor “Justified” and my two least favorite songs off the album “Suit & Tie” and “Mirrors” got nods ( I prefer “Take Back the Night” and “Pusher Lover Girl” 10x more). All in all, he got 7 nods so he’ll get at least one for sure.

I did not think Jay-Z deserved 9 nods and thought “Holy Grail” was ok. J. Cole’s album was way better than his and Drake’s and should have been nominated instead. I have not jumped on the Lorde train as I prefer Birdy and Kimbra but at least she brings some youth into the fray. Was surprised to see Janelle Monae and India Arie get shut out.

Interviewing several artists and producers this year, was happy to see some artists I spoke with get nominated- Hiatus Kaiyote, Mack Wilds and J.Rob, a producer on Chrisette Michele’s album “Better”. I missed the deadline to cover the show so my ass will be after partying after the show and then watching the old news clips the following day. Will be looking forward to all the concerts and madness in a few weeks.

 

 

 

Carlita’s September Sentiments- Rock The Bells LA, SF, Justin Timberlake, Aloe Blacc, Eve and India Arie September 30, 2013

Filed under: Music — carlitasconcerts @ 2:39 am
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Although I anticipated it would be, September was a VERY crazy music month for me. Somehow between interviewing artists and album reviewing, I managed to attend eight shows this month- 6 in the LA vicinity and 2 in the Bay Area. Although I did go to a few shows this summer, it seemed like a tamer one than usual, with tons of artists coming through to the West side all at once this month. While I won’t bore you with all the details, I’ll give the cliffnotes version of what happened.

Rock The Bells- Deciding to attend Rock The Bells in LA and SF for the first time, I had very different experiences at each. The LA one took place during a 100+ heatwave in the mountains and the SF one close to the Bay was in the 60′s. Temperature matters and def affects your concert enjoyment. The VIP experiences were different too as LA’s was pretty lush and the SF one was very scaled back. The LA one I focused on the meet and greets and the SF one I focused on the performances, being able to meet 12 artists and see 12 artists during the 3 day experience. Although I thought everyone I met was cool, it was a thrill in particular to meet Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, Dilated Peoples and Joey Bada$$. Had no clue a few weeks later, Guerilla Union would awkwardly cancel DC and NY’s RTBs, blaming folks for poor ticket sales, alienating fanbases and creating a PR fiasco. Although my experiences weren’t perfect, I did enjoy my shows and felt even luckier after this happened.

Getting last minute tickets that opened up on 1iota to see Justin Timberlake for free for a block concert at Jimmy Kimmel, this was a highlight of the month. Sure, going to a concert at a late night show is free but quite an investment in time. Expect at a minimum to be there at least 4 hours. Putting screens throughout the streets on Hollywood Blvd and a blimp and helicopters circling overheard, the scene was pretty hectic. Justin,who was sick but didn’t sound like it, performed 6 songs- 3 old and 3 new to the crowd of thousands. My fav moments were seeing two of my tweets scroll under Justin’s head while he was performing and I dancing to “Rock Your Body”, “Sexyback” and “Take Back The Night” in the middle of the street outside The Chinese Theatre.

Overall throughout the month, I went to a few hip-hop and soul shows-seeing Eve (who I got to meet), Aloe Blacc at the Beach Ball Fest (who I e-interviewed a few weeks ago and discovered has a #1 song in 102 countries with Avicii) and India Arie (who I also got to meet, went to soundcheck and saw perform for 2 hours). Was def one for the books and look forward to what the end of ’13 will bring!

 

‘No Sleep Til…Time Delayed Rebroadcast’-The 2013 VMAs August 26, 2013

Filed under: Music — carlitasconcerts @ 2:59 pm
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Not sure what age it is but there’s definitely an age when the stuff on MTV just isn’t appealing anymore. Sure, call it getting old but there’s an age when watching reality programming about teenage mothers fighting with their baby daddies, getting drunk in a sick house in a city they’ve already done collectively with 7 other individuals and spoiled, little rich kids receiving Range Rovers for their 16th birthdays, loses its draw. Plus it’s probably been a good 10 years since I’ve seen a VMA show. But once the rumors started swirling about a N’Sync reunion, I drank the Kool-aid (or fizzle added soda water). I absolutely had to watch.

Holding the show in Brooklyn, the theme was gimmicky. Yes, the American public is well AWARE Brooklyn is hipster trendy. We get it. Not viewing some of the commercials used to hype it until a few min before the broadcast, my eyes started rolling immediately. Unsure if we were going to see the broadcast live, I tuned in at 6PM PST to be greeted by an episode of “Catfish”. Beyond annoyed that we still have award shows with West Coast time delays in an age where videos of the performances go up 5 min later, I went online and saw audience cam where they had cams spying on the celebs in the rafters, getting their reaction during the show. That was fun for a while to see Rihanna looking bored during most of the show, Taylor Swift non-rhythmically dancing along to each performance, gossiping with Selena Gomez and the first glimpse of Miley Cyrus in nude leather underwear with a foam finger backstage. Also visited Twitter and FB which always brings out the comedic best of the people I follow. The comments about RT Beetlejuice, MC ratchet twerking and Gaga’s Little Mermaid outfit made the spoiled time I could have been watching the show live, pass much faster.

Finally viewing the show at 9PM PST after being told about all highlights via text and online in detail, the lack of host concept took a little adjustment. On the one hand, it was nice not to see someone work their way through unfunny bits but on the other, it made the show lack cohesion. The intro from Vanessa Bayer pointing out Miley Cyrus now likes to stick her tongue out was priceless. Hannah Montana no more. Did I see Minnie fondling foam fingers and slapping asses? Am still processing that.

Bravo to Macklemore getting his first Moon man. It’s been great to see this astronomical rise and the fact that Macklemore mentioned he was indie onstage was dope. Props to Ray Dalton too. But it all pales in comparison to the main event. Justin’s ruled 2013 and a 20 min concert during the VMAs just drove the point home. A medley of solo album songs with the much hyped N’Sync reunion everyone wished for AND lots of dancing. I love that Justin said “You asked for it” twice. My inner college girl that’s seen N’Sync in concert 5 times squealed with delight for 2 minutes. Perfect way to highlight his discography and prove why he’s such a great entertainer. Although Justin’s been in the biz for 20 years, he’s still only 32. I thought it was a little early to give him a lifetime achievement award but the performance that came along with the award was awesome. Can’t wait to see him again soon.

 

Peeping the elusive ‘Award Tour’- A Tribe Called Quest at the H20 Music Fest August 18, 2013

Filed under: Music — carlitasconcerts @ 5:51 pm
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Courtesy of My SL

Courtesy of My SL

As many hip-hop groups as I love, there is one I love most of all. A Tribe Called Quest. Period. This group was the most influential group of my youth and a few days will not go by that I don’t play something from their discography. It is, was and will always be THAT good. I’ve seen their documentary four times, even attending two special screenings featuring the movie’s director Michael Rappaport discussing the possibility of reunion. They’ve reunited for a few elusive shows since then but so far no new music collectively. Although I wasn’t thrilled of the venue choice – a park full of dirt- (yes, I’ve become a venue snob, I’ve earned it after going to 100+ concerts), but when ATCQ reunites in my vicinity, I must attend. Reading on H20′s FB page, Tribe wouldn’t go on until 9:30, I wasn’t interested in being there any earlier.

Courtesy of My SL

Courtesy of My SL

Taking a risk not coming earlier, the parking situation was worst than expected. All of Spring Street was completely blocked off from traffic as well as the side streets so you were parking miles away or not at all. Sneaking onto a farther side street, I set out for the trek to the stage, with EDM provided by DJ Chuckie, leading the way. Given the runaround from H20 Fest staff, I was sent four places before I finally got my VIP bracelet to get into the dirt pit by the stage. By then around 9:30, I was annoyed but as soon as I saw Ali Shaheed Muhammad, my mood lifted. The cameras would alternate between the back and forth of Phife and Tip and shots of the wack folks standing in the front, barely amused. I didn’t understand this. How can you stand in the front of a music festival and look like you’re at the opera? Fall back, wack people who didn’t know ATCQ at all. At least the area where I was standing had people hype dancing and rapping along. It was obvious Phife and Tip noticed the low-energy folks in the front because they actually told the crowd to get hype- making sports analogies comparing it to the Dodgers, Clippers and Lakers. That did the trick.

Doing all my favs like ” Oh My God”, “Excursions”, “Bonita Applebum”, “Electric Relaxation”, “Lyrics to Go”, “Jazz (We’ve Got) and rare “Everything is Fair”, I yelled out every word. Feel truly blessed every time I see the best there ever was, “buggin’” out.

 

Jigga and Justin on the West Side- Legends of the Summer Tour at the Rose Bowl July 29, 2013

Filed under: Music — carlitasconcerts @ 2:56 pm
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To say I was hyped when I first heard anything about the “Legends of the Summer” tour would be an understatement. Yes, I even nerdily studied each artist’s discographies to make sure I was extra prepared. It really wasn’t necessary since I knew almost every single song played but it was still fun. Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z on an outrageously expensive stadium tour. A super fan since I was 15 of one and a passive fan of the other since my teens as well so I would run immediately to get tix, right? Not really. The price($280 for tix not exactly close to the stage) and venue choice (with expensive parking lots, big screens and/or ant sized views) proved initial deterrents for all my love and enjoyment I’d knew I have. All in all, my disappointment at missing Justin’s two album tours and his impossible to get into after-Grammy show outweighed the negative.

Receiving a couple of e-mails basically predicting a madhouse and warning concertgoers to get there early, they strongly recommended for people to get there at 4 PM for a 7PM start-time. I got there at 5:30PM and felt like I was twiddling my thumbs for over two hours. For a person as busy as I am, I have a hard time sitting still. DJ Cassidy did come out after 7:30 and played some songs that made me want to dance finally. Around 8:30 PM, the show started with Justin coming out on my side of the stage and Jay-Z on the right side to do “Holy Grail”. For the next 100+ minutes, we got some mashups and solo sets. Hit after hit, it kept coming.

The crowd mix was quite amusing. Mostly couples (with the guys coming to see Jay-Z but knew all the words to Justin’s songs and the girls coming to see Justin) plus groups of “Single Ladies” (all there to see Justin). It’s pretty evident I was there to see Justin too and I lit up every time it was his turn to do a song. It’s as if he never left the stage, playing guitar and piano, he’d also drop some old dance steps in there, making the girls go wild. It’s clear the stage is where he belongs and I was so happy to see him enjoying himself, doing music again. Fav songs of the night for me were “Senorita”, “Summer Love”, “Rock Your Body”, “Like I Love You”, “Love Stoned” with a shout-out to “West Coast ass” and “Sexy Back” featuring surprise guest Timbaland. Jay-Z nonchalantly roared through his extensive catalog of songs like “Heart of the City”, “Nig-as in Paris”, “Jigga What?”, “Hard Knock Life”, “Big Pimpin”, “Empire State of Mind” and “Izzo (H.O.V.A)”. I suppose when you get thousands to throw up Roc signs including some older folks in the crowd, you rule the world. Minus the venue choice, parking situation and uncomfortable seating, this show was one of the best of the year.

 

Jinglin’ and Minglin’-Kings of the Mic-LA- LL Cool J, Public Enemy, De La Soul and Ice Cube at Greek Theatre July 15, 2013

Filed under: Music — carlitasconcerts @ 3:53 am
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For someone who enjoys summer festivals in July and August, the selection of events to choose from this year have been disappointingly just meh. It seems like the same artists are playing the same festivals and overexposure makes me want to go zzzzzzzzzzz. Until I saw the Kings of the Mic line-up. Getting De La, Ice Cube, Public Enemy and LL on one bill was interesting and enticing. Debating whether to go VIP or not, I decided to go both ways, asking a friend to get a ticket in the nosebleeds, just in case I wouldn’t go VIP. The idea of having to stand in a pit for 4 hours was what prevented me from saying Yes immediately. Getting seats in all other VIP package concerts I’ve attended, concertgoers and I were baffled as to why these didn’t come with, when we arrived at the Greek Theatre that night. First world problems, I know, but as ladies who want to look cute to meet LL, it was a little annoying.

Hearing some of the acts soundcheck like Public Enemy because we were told to be there early, eliminated my annoyance and I set out to enjoy the night full of acts, the last tourstop of this tour which was bound to have a hidden surprise. Being from NY, I was excited to see DJ Chuck Chillout and then De La Soul who performed “Me,Myself and I” and “Buddy”, songs I hadn’t seen them do in a while. Public Ememy next followed who I knew would “Bring The Noise”. Flav mentioned their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which happened in April and got an ovation. Out of the whole line-up, I was least familiar with Ice Cube’s discography but playing to his hometown crowd, he and they loved it. He called out the haters who thought he went soft due to his TV and movie success but he’s still the same dude in NWA.

Last but not least came LL Cool J with Z Trip who opened his set with “Mama Said Knock You Out”. The whole crowd got hype yet again and it became hectic in the pit. 6 ft dudes were pushing their way up in front, oblivious to the smaller ladies in there with them. There should be a rule in general that tall folks should always stand in the back. I opted to sit in the front row, closeby, giving up my chance to dance onstage with LL or to receive a rose. That sucked but I was able to dance freely and see the show perfectly. Bringing DMC out, LL and DMC did “Peter Piper”, which was the highlight of the night. LL kept the hits going throughout, performing ” Jinglin’ Baby”, “Hey Lover”, “Rock the Bells” and my fav “Around the Way Girl”. After the show, the VIPs were whisked backstage to say what’s up to LL and take a pic. I already knew he was hot but up close? Lip licking Damn. Def a contender for Carlita’s Top 10 of the year, no doubt.

 

Late Night “Lady” Jammin- D’Angelo and Questlove- Brothers in Arms at Philly’s Theatre of the Living Arts July 12, 2013

Filed under: Music — carlitasconcerts @ 7:23 am
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Before I even start this post off about D’Angelo’s July 3rd show, I need to state the facts:

-My fav type of musician is the male piano player.
-With said fact #1, D’Angelo is one of my fav artists of all-time.
-I ADORE the music Questlove and D’Angelo have made together. I’d lobby for a Soulquarians reunion any day.
-I couldn’t get enough of the Brooklyn Bowl video clips posted of their show earlier this year.

With these in mind, if these two artists (even though I’d just seen the Roots at BET Award weekend) are within reach of my vicinity, I will be there. Period. Finding myself on the East Coast this time during July 4th week and D’Angelo conveniently doing a show on July 3rd in Philly, the rest is history. Fighting ridic traffic in NYC and crazy thunderstorms the whole way down, I made it to Philly and took my place in the VIP balcony, waiting for the show to start at 12:30 AM, officially making the show on July 4th. A few select cities this year have been able to see the dynamic duo and I was not going to miss this.Not sure who else was lucky enough to spend two July 4ths in a row with D’Angelo but I was, attending my first show EVER of his the July 4th prior.

As the show started, several things were made clear. It’s obvious Questlove likes to playfully tease shy D’Angelo and get him out of his shell. Thank God for that because D was smiling and laughing throughout the show. Questlove acknowledged his hometown crowd who gave him the love back. Mutually loving Prince and 70′s classic soul bands, the set was full of covers (especially loved “Pop Life”, “She’s Always in my hair”, “You caught me smilin’”), with a few “Brown Sugar”, “Voodoo” and “James River” songs mixed in. Philly also provided the added bonus of having the bulk of The Legendary Roots crew in attendance, watching the show from the wings, eventually jumping onstage to play for the finale. Every minute was well worth the drive and with no traffic, I made it back to NYC with more memories and chomping at the bit for this new album to drop. Oh, and counting down the minutes til D’Angelo’ll have me “smilin’” again.

 

BET Award Weekend 2013-Day 3- R. Kelly and New Edition at Staples Center July 4, 2013

Filed under: Music — carlitasconcerts @ 8:54 pm
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By the time Day 3 rolled around (the actual day of the BET Award ceremony), I was beat. Doing the actual count, having seen 22 acts the previous days before, I was ready to curl up on my couch and virtually watch the Award show, judging the performances and horrible/gorgeous outfits people were wearing. It would take a force of nature or one of my fav acts to perform for me to leave the comfort of my PJs and that’s exactly what happened. How could I say No when New Edition came through? Getting a last minute ticket for $20, I found myself sitting in a luxury suite box again, watching the BET Awards before the concert started, which were happening across the street, on the big screens throughout Staples Center. Chris Tucker was very funny as the host but Kevin Hart definitely found ways to steal the show. Catching part of the Charlie Wilson tribute, I laughed when I heard people raving about his performance, like this was something new. He always GETS DOWN each time he hits the stage and it seemed like the general public just realized that. Loved the 90′s reggae medley and Janelle Monae and Erykah’s performances as well.

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R. Kelly took the stage first and the crowd got hype for him. Although I appreciate his longevity and his general ability to write a R&B love song, I’ve never connected as a fan. Surrounded by R. Kelly super fans in my suite, they knew every word to every song, moved like a snake, believed they could fly and stepped in the name of love while I watched amusingly.

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My boys, New Edition, next took the stage with their DJ, who opened the set by playing classic dance hits and got the crowd hype again. This time in my suite, I was the one who knew every word to every song, danced to Bobby Brown, NE,BBD, Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill medleys while those around me, watched. Those songs will always have a special place in my heart and I can always “stand the rain”. Unfortunately, I couldn’t catch the Jacksons’ set but the Jackson 5′s legacy lives on forever. Went home super sleepy, satisfied and grateful Los Angeles hosted this super weekend of music. It was clear a lot of thought, money and time went into planning these events. Bravo, BET.

 

BET Award Weekend 2013- Day 2-Miguel, J.Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop, Dr. Dre, Wiz Khalifa at Staples Center and The Roots and Friends at Club Nokia June 30, 2013

Filed under: Music — carlitasconcerts @ 9:06 pm

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Still processing BET Award Weekend Day 1, I returned to downtown LA to resume the BET Experience craziness. Caught in horrible traffic getting there, I frustratingly ended up being late to the mega show at Staples Center. I figured Miguel, who I am always excited to see, would go later in the line-up around 8 PM, right? Nope. Me thinks the universe does not want me to see the beginning of Miguel’s sets this year as I arrived AGAIN (this happened before with his earlier show with Alicia Keys) at Staples Center while he was onstage. Getting a cheap ticket last minute in one of the luxury suites, I shared the suite with a random assortment of fans that were pretty friendly and bought booze for everyone in the suite to share. This ticket strategy is smart for the spontaneous and cost-conscious but if you’re not cool with going with the flow, this is def not for you.

Miguel shouted out his hometown and performed a set similar to the Alicia Keys show, mixing in songs from both albums and ended with his big hit, “Adorn”. J. Cole next followed and the more I see him, the more I like him. Really familiar with his music now as I reviewed him this week, I like what he brings to the table. Doing a combo of old and new too including several songs off his brand-new album “Born Sinner”, he humbly soaked up the moment, playing to 20,000 people in the historic Staples Center, which did make me and the rest of the screaming girls, swoon a little more. He also brought out Wale, sharing the spotlight too, mentioning his new album as well.

Kendrick Lamar who also acknowledged his hometown, took the stage to thunderous applause, performing songs from all three of his albums saying he’s been on tour but there’s nothing like Cali. He brought out Jay Rock from the Black Hippy crew out and ended his set with “Swimming Pools”. When I saw Snoop was a part of this line-up, I was sure which Snoop would appear as he now goes by Snoop Lion. The Snoop we know and love appeared (“The Next Episode”, “Drop It Like It’s Hot”, “Gin and Juice”) , later smoking kush onstage with Wiz Khalifa (“Young, Wild and Free”), one of the several artists (Dr. Dre, Warren G, Kurupt, Gucci Mane, Ace Hood, Future, Trinidad James to name a few) who performed during his hour-long showcase. Nuts.

Walking across the street around 11PM to go see The Roots, the show began around 11:30 PM, doing their own songs at the beginning and end of the show, with their “Friends” doing mini-sets. Not having a pre-Grammy Jam this year, this was long awaited and welcome for The Roots’ West Coast fans. How often do you get to see The Roots do “Cha,Cha,Cha”, “Hot in Herrre”, “O.P.P” and “Blow The Whistle” with MC Lyte, Nelly, Naughty by Nature and Too $hort? Left around 1AM, blown away by the assortment of talent seen in six hours and impressed that BET Award Weekend rivaled Grammy Weekend this year.

 

BET Award Weekend 2013- Day 1- Beyonce at Staples Center and Erykah Badu at Club Nokia June 29, 2013

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Hearing about BET Award Weekend previously, I honestly hadn’t paid attention until this year. There’s summer, the beach, July 4th coming up, Essence Music Festival which provide lots of distractions. After being given the runaround, going through different PR areas at BET and finally finding the right site to apply for press access, I received two e-mails (just in case I didn’t get the first one) rejecting my ass but politely inviting me to attend the free events happening throughout the three days from June 28-June 30. Umm ok. Combing through the schedule, the only things I cared about were the music events so I decided to go anyway to give the REAL fan’s perspective of everything going down.

Scheduled on a HOT weekend, with the temperatures expected to be 95-100 in Los Angeles all three days, I also decided the indoor activities will definitely be my focus. There are plenty of those and the BET Experience app is easy to read and use, offering helpful information like area maps (they pretty much occupy like a 10 block radius), set times and movie times, etc. With so many shows I wanted to attend, I purchased tix to the shows I thought would sell out up front and then will wait until the last minute to purchase unsold tix for the rest of the events people want to get rid of. That strategy worked out great last night. I had no idea Beyonce would have a stage in the back of the Staples Center and luckily got a seat right by this stage for 50% of what it would have cost if I’d bought it earlier.

Surprisingly, this was my first time seeing Beyonce live and she definitely lived up to the hair flipping, larger than life hype. Admittedly I was a little put off by the HBO documentary that aired earlier this year which showed glimpses of the tour prep process, making her seem bossy and demanding. But after going to the show, I understood why. Queen Be’s a thorough entertainer, getting how important it is to have bold visuals, dancing (which the audience did plenty of), costumes (think I counted 6 changes) and interacting with large crowds, making the person in the last row feel included. Doing a set which featured only one Destiny’s Child song, “Survivor”, she performed other hits like “Halo”, “Irreplacable”, “Baby Boy” and of course “Crazy In Love” and “Single Ladies”. I left impressed and with a deeper respect for what she does.

Switching gears I walked across to Club Nokia to see Erykah Badu aka Annie, Analog Girl in the Digital World, who I know, having seen her countless times before, would give a good show. With a show scheduled to start at 11PM, I’ve seen artists have chill jam session atmospheres or party all night vibes and Erykah brought a little of both. Performing some new songs including one she dedicated to her best friend, Andre, about love and hate, there were chill moments such as “Me” and “Window Seat”. Then she got hype on songs like “Love of my Life”, “I Want You” and “Danger” which she worked Yarbrough and Peoples “Don’t Stop the Music” in as well. I loved when she dropped a familiar classic quote of hers: “I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my sh-t”. Great end to a night burning calories, singing and dancing in the audience.

 

 
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