The fall is officially here, and I’m not going to lie, I’m still a little sad about saying goodbye to summer. It is my favorite season, and when I tell you I was outside all summer—baby, I was OUTSIDE. It was the concerts and festivals for me!
It began in May with the incomparable Anita Baker. (I know I’m taking liberties by lumping May into summer, lol.) She still has the silky, sultry voice of an Angel. And yes, she did sing my favorite song, “Angel.” That was a moment.
Then in June, my girlfriends and I took a mini-road trip to the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection for the Odunde Festival. Attending the Odunde Festival in Philadelphia every year is a cornerstone of my summer tradition. It’s the largest African-American street festival in the country. This beautiful event welcomes well over 100,000 people and celebrates African, Caribbean, and African-American cultures. The Diaspora is well represented.
I love walking up and down the designated fifteen blocks full of vendors selling every kind of ware you can think of: African clothing, jewelry, eyewear, and food. Oh, and how can I forget the homemade mango and peach soap that I buy, by the load, every year? I’m true to this! Needless to say, we had an amazing time at Odunde this year, and we couldn’t leave Philly without stopping for a cheesesteak before hitting the road. That’s the rule—I don’t make them, I just follow them. I’m down by law, y’all! Especially when food is involved.
My summer was already off to a strong start, but then I had the privilege and honor of seeing Ms. Lauryn Hill in concert for the 25th anniversary celebration of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. This was my second time seeing Ms. Lauryn Hill in concert. People asked me how the concert was, but I discerned the question behind their question: Was Lauryn late to the show or nah? I’m glad to report that she performed on time and gave us a remarkable show that left an indelible impression on me.
I grew up watching Lauryn Hill in Sister Act 2. She holds a warm place in my heart as a dark-skinned Black woman who is an amazing actress, singer, lyricist, and prophetess. I’ve watched her grow up just as I was coming of age; she was like an older play-cousin in my mind. As such, I’ve seen her evolution, her triumphs and failures. The lows from young love lost and love unrequited. I understand that experience—I know it intimately. Yet, something was significantly different about Lauryn in concert this time: she exuded palpable joy, peace, and contentment. I’m overjoyed for her.
Two moments during the concert that remain etched in my mind are when Lauryn brought her mother on stage and honored her for her love, support, and for nurturing her musical gift. It was a moving tribute that brings tears to my eyes as I write this. We have come to know Lauryn as a mother due, in part, to her classic song, “Zion,” and because she has six children. So, it was a rare privilege to see her as a daughter, too. It was a tender moment when we got to see Lauryn talk about her “mommy” with such deep affection and care. Lauryn contains multitudes; just as we all do.
As if I hadn’t wept enough, Lauryn made space for her son to take the stage and perform one of his original songs. It was endearing to watch Lauryn dote over her son and encourage him from the sideline as he performed. The 25th Anniversary of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill concert was truly a remarkable experience I won’t soon forget.
Last but certainly not least, in August, I went to Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour. Her concert was the cherry on top of this legendary sundae I’ve been indulging in all summer long. I have to be honest, I am not a member of the Beyhive. I would not categorize myself as a Beyoncé fan. The only Beyoncé CD I have (yes, I’m a woman of a certain age, lol) is Dangerously in Love. Without a doubt, she is an amazing artist, a living legend, and a beautiful woman, but I have never connected with her music like I have other artists. Yet, I can recognize artistic excellence when I see it, and she embodies that. PERIOD.
Pre-pandemic, my sisters suggested that we go to a Beyoncé concert together—just to have fun and do some bonding. I agreed in the name of sisterly love. So, when the Renaissance album was released, I listened to it and, at first, I didn’t care too much for it. But it takes me some time to get into a new album from any artist. So, I listened to it again, and I enjoyed it. Which worked out for me and my sisters because this was the tour they decided we should attend. I had an amazing time at the concert, eating crab fries and dancing the night away with my sisters. I’m glad I got to see another living legend in concert.
Summer 2023 owes me nothing, and I have God to thank for that. I can’t wait to see what summer 2024 is going to give. I’m already counting down the days.
Sistas, what were the highlights of your Summer 2023?Leave a Comment