The 2012 National Urban League Conference in New Orleans got off to a great start on Wednesday evening, July 25, 2012 with President Barack Obama issuing a call-to-action by announcing a new education initiative and tougher laws on gun violence during his plenary address.
Then on Thursday, July 26, it was time to groove. Organizers brought together timeless acts for a “White Linen” concert at the New Orleans Arena. Rap legends Biz Markie, Doug E. Fresh and R&B’s “Every Woman” chartreuse Chaka Khan gave remarkable performances.
Biz Markie didn’t disappoint, he had just what we needed to kick off the evening, performing all of his hits including “Just a Friend.” Rapper Doug E. Fresh hyped the crowd with the Zodiac and “Where you from?” roll calls, and his impeccable beat box skills. Fresh has been on the scene for three decades and is as energetic as when he debuted in the 80’s. He won the crowd over when he invited us to back him on iconic hits “La Di Da Di” and “The Show.” During his finale, he treated us to a lesson on how to Dougie like Fresh – epic.
Chaka Khan is reinvigorated and reborn. The petite songstress and her bodacious hair sashayed on stage dressed in all black, flaunting her 60-pound weight loss. She joked to the crowd, dressed (mostly) in white that she didn’t get the memo about the white linen affair. Front row concertgoers like National Urban League president Marc Morial, dressed in a white linen suit and complementary Nubuck Oxford shoes, accented with a pastel-colored dress shirt and socks, was tickled by her observation.
Chaka and her funkafied live band had us on our feet with “Feel For You” and “What Cha’ Gonna Do For Me” and then Chaka vented about one of her ex-husbands before treating us to “I’m A Woman (I’m A Backbone).” It was her dreamy performances of “Sweet Thing” and “My Funny Valentine” that solidified why this sister has staying power. –yvette caslin