Jessica Childress at Rockwood Music Hall 4/23/14

Jessica Childress

Rockwood Music Hall

April 23, 2014

As I’ve mentioned a number of times on this site, running a blog practically full-time and having a full-time job often leads to competing demands for my time and attention. But a couple of weeks ago, I was part of a small crowd at Rockwood Music Hall to catch the Los Angeles, CA-based vocalist and former The Voice contestant Jessica Childress

Backed by a quintet of a keyboardist, bassist, drummer, trumpeter/backing vocals and guitarist, Childress and her back specialize in a sound that owes a great debt to 60s and 70s soul, disco and funk; in fact, her set started with a playful and brief homage to Cheryl Lynn’s disco (and party) classic “Got To Be Real” and included covers of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” and the Staples SingersI’ll Take You There,” and a sultry and jazzy cover of Justin Timberlake and Jay Z’s “Suit and Tie.” Although I’ve never been a fan of “Suit and Tie,” the various covers in Childress’s set suggest she’s aware of vital connection between old school soul and pop, and modern soul – it also suggests the continued resurgence of the old school soul sound through a variety of contemporary bands. And much like countless soul acts, Childress’s songs come from a very real place and seem backed by personal experience. 

Interestingly, an original song like “Slow Down” reminded me a little of of Patrice Rushen and Evelyn “Champagne” King and others, thanks to an sinuously funky bass line, Childress’s easy-going, girl-next door vibe. In some way, her live presence reminds me a little bit of someone like Jill Scott. Much like Scott, you can’t help but have Childress remind you of someone you went to school with or lived next door. 

From catching Childress live, there’s a sense that you may be hearing quite a bit about her in the future – she has an incredibly expressive, soulful voice with an easy-going, at times, self-depricating stage presence. Granted, I would have hoped to hear “I Quit,” one of my favorite songs off her debut EP but I still found her and her set to be quite a bit of fun. 

Check out some photos from her set below. 

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For these photos and more, check out the Flickr set here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/yankee32879/sets/72157644514371143/