Alright, it is time to get in touch with the soul of the city. How does one do that? It’s actually quite easy, just find the musicians preaching it far and wide. For example, the weekend before Thanksgiving, soul was ripe for the taking at Rockwood Music Hall from none other than the seductive New York singer Olithea Anglin. This woman made the mood for all at Rockwood, from start to finish, one to remember and to simply enjoy. With her optimistic attraction and powerful voice, it was hard not to pick a better way to spend a musical Friday in New York City.
It was to be the last warm Friday before the Thanksgiving holidays. City goers and listeners were taking a leisurely pace to head out into the night. For fans heading to Stage One at Rockwood, it was a breeze. Olithea and her entourage were already patiently waiting outside by the curb for the lady of the hour’s set to begin. Naturally, she was all smiles while greeting friends and her fellow band mates of Something Major, Jason Reese, Nate Vivacqua, Charles Jourdan, Julian Edmond, Ambe Williams and Rachel Tuggle Whorton. Some of these musicians were familiar faces. Adding onto the excitement of the evening, it was a pleasant surprise when Ryan McNulty of Black Tie Brass (BTB) entered and was followed by other members of his band. The talent of BTB was to be easily supported alongside Olithea, it was too splendid and the music had not even started yet!
The set before Olithea’s gave way only to a small lingering crowd that hung back slowly sipping their drinks. It was a optimal contrast to the musical pleasure to come. From that point on the excitement in the space was palpable as more and more enthusiastic fans came clamoring in. Olithea had to slowly work her way to the small stage while at the same time happily greeting people along the way. Guests had to admire the sense of camaraderie in the air.
As the lady took the stage to set up with her band, she stole the show immediately. She was wearing a beautiful paisley sportcoat with a very sexy black ripped undershirt that gave way to some even more sultry leather shorts. Of course, her gorgeous afro was sublime. Fans will know that the woman has some amazing skill with her hairstyles and that it’s hard to keep up with her! Earlier this fall, she was rocking out some serious braids. Olithea had some equally talented backup singers, Ambe and Rachel, with her on stage that would just add onto the vibrancy of the performance of the evening.
Listeners can often gather the vitality of a band by how they initiate their soundcheck. Olithea brought that power to new heights with a soulful funk bit with her band easily dancing around for those enjoyable few seconds. If viewers thought it was crowded before the soundcheck, they were not prepared for the shoulder to shoulder madness that inched their way in afterwards. It was unbelievably tight in that space. In fact, Stage One had not had a showing like that in a long time. Olithea must have worked her marketing magic because it was an impressive turnout. The time finally came for the real musical show to begin and Olithea gathered everyone’s attention with that one of a kind wide smile of hers. Everyone just feels a bit better when that musician smiles, her grace and uplifting nature is felt all over.
To begin, some trippy keys came into the fray from Jason that gave way to some ideal jazz-funk. With that musical inception, grooving head bobs from the crowd and the band was turned on full blast. Olithea made sure to take things off with some sexy soul as she belched out lyrics and shook her hips with Ambe and Rachel. Her deep voice was a fascinating contrast to her high voiced ladies. Throwing her head back and letting it all loose was just what the doctor ordered for this musical adventure. Her songs often won the crowd over with shared audience participation. Even the bartenders were into it walking through the crowd singing along and dancing while at the sime taking drink orders with professional ease. It is worth noting that this was all from just song one! Olithea barely needed any effort to get the groove going. It just started and plowed its way through the duration of her unforgettable set.
Olithea shifted genres left and right with immense skill and ease. Seductive soul-funk brought the groove down low with people intensely listening in with intermittent cheers to follow. Ambe and Rachel were ideal for a choir-like performances and heavenly harmonies. There was unmistakable power in Olithea’s voice as she stared out into the crowd while showcasing emotion through her facial expressions. Her large vocal range was a mesmerizing factor that helped seal the deal. Sometimes she looked directly at people, almost as if she was singing directly to them to tell them something important and valuable. Other times she was simply looking out to into her own world just to sing her heart out. It was both inspiring and unique.
Olithea’s funk opera was most gratifying when her voice reached its peak and the hip shaking magic ensued. Viewers could obviously tell that the musician was having the time of her life on stage and was happy in every way. Her serenading skills were apparent as several people fell in love with her over and over again. It was hard not to and who would want to resist? Jason’s solid organ flow introduced some hip-hop as Olithea began to rap and continuously wave out to friends who still were entering the overcrowded venue. She even introduced a take on a nursery rhyme, Mary, that she modified from the days when she was an educator, which was just plain fun. While she was smiling and bantering with the crowd, she often broke out into a fit of adorable giggles that made her even more wonderful to watch. That is why laughter is addictive folks. All the men of BTB were smiling right with Olithea as they kept making eye contact with one another somehow sharing a musical secret. They too were having the time of their lives.
As the set winded down, she unleashed some of her best tunes yet. When she sang with her spirit, it was effortlessly felt and marveled by all who were there. Fun fact, there were people walking past the venue windows who occasionally stopped in their tracks to catch a glimpse of the stunning woman in action. It was raw and personal emotion at its best. She knew she had it, especially when that confidence sparkled in her eyes at the end of every song. She introduced thematic social anthems as she promoted progressive ideals given the unfortunate events from the General Election. However, that optimistic resolve and collective force was apparent in her music that night with the diverse crowd who were together for the simple love of the art. With a fist in the air, she was not afraid to speak her mind and everyone loved it.
Harmonic glory lead the way to the end of her set as the ladies began to dance with a wild passion letting their hair move frantically with the music at hand. A soul clap from the crowd followed and scatting soul left Olithea to solo on stage for the ideal climatic finale. She and her music were the perfect way to start the holiday right. Hell, her music will keep the holidays permanent for years to come.