The line of the fourth and final consecutively sold out show was wrapped around the corner. Strangers literally became close friends as they gathered together for warmth under the bright glow of the marquee that read: Jazz Blues Alley SYLEENA JOHNSON. Finally after almost an hour of standing in line the doors opened and the house was packed to capacity, standing room only. It wasn’t long before the lights dimmed and the music began to play. Anticipation quickly built as her name was announced and she descended the staircase, sauntering through the crowd; an amped up acoustical version of All Falls Down guiding her pace all the way up to her stage.
The audience was then taken on a musical journey throughout her tumultuous relationships with undeserving men that was so eloquently yet very earnestly depicted by Johnson via anecdote and song. She invited us into her truth, the good the bad and the ugly of it. Along the way Johnson pitch perfectly nailed some her most notable hits such as Boss, Another Relationship, Like Thorns, StoneWall as well, and even took us on a walk down musical lane with a melody of her anthology. She took requests from audience members and then began to belt out songs from memory. “Apartment For Rent!”… “Slowly!”… “No Words!”… “Play Your Cards Right!” Song titles were being hollered from all over and Johnson obliged as best she could. No stone was left unturned Johnson even lent her powerful vocals to cover Sade and even the Color Purple. The finale was full of the Christmas spirit and incorporated the combined voices of Johnson, her super group/ backing vocals, LakeShore (Sandy Redd, Anthony Greendown, and Tommie B.), and there road manager extraordinaire, Stephen Michael.
Arguably one of if not the most underrated artist in the history of music, nevertheless Syleena Johnson is a force to be reckoned with. Unique is an understatement regarding her vocal description. There’s simply not another voice like it. You’d have to somehow be able to combine Millie Jackson’s powerful vocal prowess and ability to philosophically fine tune a metaphor into song with the graceful styling of Nancy Wilson, and then manage to stretch and wrap it around the four octave depths/ raspy range of Tina Turner just to get a sound somewhat similar to Johnson’s. With each new chapter released, an even better Syleena Johnson revealed. If she keeps this up she will be on her way to becoming the greatest story ever sung.