Tuesday night (May 15), English singer/songwriter Ella Mai brought her impressive, vintage style to New York City’s SOBs venue. Along with the 23-year-old’s electrifying vocals and time-honored presence, the Instagram sensation-turned-rising R&B crooner delivered an important message to black women about embracing their flaws. But before the Interscope signee unloaded her refreshing ideas of feminism—or womanism—onto the eager NYC crowd, the London-bred artist ran through her lyrical gamut of love and break-up songs.
As the lights dimmed and her live band made their presence known by prepping their respective instruments, Mai’s chilled, yet mellifluous voice magically filled the room. “New York City, what up,” she mouthed into the microphone, which was followed by thunderous cheers from concert-goers.
The musical spectacle commenced with the upbeat, body-shaking record “Who Knew,” as Mai sashayed on stage rocking an oversized green army jacket; she looked like she was from the fashion pages of New York City in the ’90s. In fact, Mai later revealed that she went to high school in the City of Dreams, which explains her Empire State swag.
As shots of liquor settled into the systems of the venue’s patrons, Mai ran through her cuddly (and somewhat seductive) record, “Breakfast in Bed.” Women mouthed every word, while the fellas kept their poker faces intact, and semi-shoulder leaned to the bedroom medley. The mood shifted with jams “She Don’t,” “Anymore,” and the Malcolm Gladwell-inspired “10,000 Hours.” Here, with a slew of librettos meshed into themes of break-ups between former lovers, concert-goers were moved to think back on their exes, only to quickly dismiss them.
“Honestly, before I do this song, I cannot do it without saying, ‘Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart, DJ Mustard,” Mai said to resounding cheers. The god-like energy that filled the shoulder-room only venue as the Troubled singer ran through the DJ Mustard-produced “Boo’d Up,” was so spiritual that the musical gods had to spin it back.
SOB’S, THAT WAS MY BEST SHOW YET! INCREDIBLE FEELING. THANK YOU SO MUCH 🎉❤️😭
— Ella Mai (@ellamai) May 16, 2018
However, the best moment of the night came when the rising R&B star reached into her own bag of thought to unearth words of encouragement unifying women of every color, shape and political ideals. “This is all because of you guys, and I can’t thank you enough,” Mai said. “It’s a message that doesn’t get put out enough, especially as a young black woman in this industry. We need more messages like this for the younger generation who is very influenced by social media. It’s okay to wake up and look however you look. You are beautiful regardless.” These supporting words were followed by the groovy record, “Naked,” which the charming crooner performed with finesse.
This night was special because Ella Mai shed light on one of the most important, and often overlooked, lessons of feminism, or womanism: sisterhood and women embracing life’s contradictions and flaws to discover their superwoman abilities.