So last Friday, I was at the Liberation Tour featuring Mary J. Blige and D’Angelo–by myself. Yeah I know, it sounds pretty ambitious to go to a concert by yourself. However, Groupon was offering tickets to the show at a deeply discounted rate and this isn’t the first time, or even the second time, I have went alone to a concert, so I said why the heck not? And, once you get over the initial “Oh my God, I’m here jamming by myself,” it’s not so bad. Plus, little bottles of tequila that you ingeniously snuck in through one of the many zippers on your purse helps to settle nerves you may have too. But that’s a story for another time.
So I’m sipping on some tequila, passing the time until the show started, when the announcer told us to put our hands together for Melanie Fiona. The crowd let out a half-hearted clap – all except two older ladies, sitting three rows before me, who were hooting and screaming from excitement just a little too much to be believable. I suspect that they too had been indulging in too many well-hidden spirits.
Anyway, I’ve seen Fiona perform before – in Miami during this party for the American Black Film Festival, which I attended. And yet, I didn’t remember if I liked her or not. In fact, I was drawing a blank as to what songs she actually sung – or even what she looked like. But I think I liked her – I think. Back to this concert, Fiona hit the stage with blonde hair in an all black getup with a long black train. She did the whole, “how you doing Philly” introduction thing before the band started playing. Her first song was something I kind of knew and thought I heard before, but didn’t know (but later found out that the name of the song was “Wrong Side of Love“), which received small applause and attention from the audience, who were either still making their way to their seats – you know – CP time and all – or milling around too much to really pay attention. Undeterred, Fiona led into her second song, “It Kills Me,” and I swear to God, I heard a collective “Ooooh” like everyone had the same epitome about her identity at the same time. Now hands were swaying in the air and the folks who were still making their way to their seats put a little extra bop in their step. She followed that song with “Give it to Me Right” and then proceeded right into “4AM.” Now folks were standing, doing a little two step, talking about “that’s my song,” and mumbling through the lyrics that they didn’t know before busting out in full ensemble of the chorus, which they did know.
Man that girl can really sing. I mean her voice is on point and sounds just as it does on the radio. Not to mention her great stage presence and the undeniable catchiness of her songs. In fact, most of the songs she belted out at the concert receive great radio rotations. So why isn’t Fiona a bigger star than what she is?
This is a question that has always bewildered me. It seems that some singers like a Rihanna or a Beyoncé become household names while others like a Fiona or a Heather Hedley or even a Tamia, as demonstrated by this article, simply can’t break the ceiling of stardom – no matter how many number ones they have under their belts. Heck even Keri Hilson has more name recognition than Fiona and we all know that Hilson can’t sing her way out of a shower with great acoustics.