“I’m going to be singing this complete time, so prepare,” one attendee laughingly declared to her neighboring seatmates at Stevie Surprise’s annual Home Filled with Toys Profit Live performance. However to not fear.
Surprise and his friends — together with Gregory Porter, Trombone Shorty and Jody Watley — had everybody inside Los Angeles’ sold-out Microsoft Theater singing and dancing alongside to each observe Saturday night (Dec. 17). Simply Surprise enjoying just a few notes on his harmonica within the wings earlier than strolling onstage with the night’s musical director/longtime buddy Rickey Minor was sufficient to ship the viewers right into a cheering frenzy even earlier than the live performance obtained underway.
Home Filled with Toys, introduced by means of Surprise’s nonprofit We Are You Basis, advantages youngsters, folks with disabilities and households in want with concertgoers donating an unwrapped toy. Now in its 24th 12 months, the performer lineup featured Trombone Shorty who had attendees second-lining a la his native New Orleans when he joined Surprise onstage for an exuberant romp by means of “Sir Duke.” Previous to that, Jody Watley took followers on her personal nostalgia tour, performing her 1989 R&B/pop hit “Actual Love” earlier than segueing right into a traditional from the standard vacation particular A Charlie Brown Christmas, “Christmas Time Is Right here.”
In the meantime, Gregory Porter’s sonorous voiced blanketed the venue with “Take Me to the Alley,” the title observe to his 2016 album. “That’s what we’re right here for,” added Porter afterwards, referencing the hungry, homeless and others going by means of life struggles. “That’s why I needed to sing that track.”
Rounding out the lineup of performers had been Tina and Teddy Campbell, the John Paul McGee Trio with Amber Bullock, Kimberly Brewer and Surprise’s daughters Zaiah and Nyah. The pair danced collectively on a vacation track that Surprise recorded within the late ‘60s, “One Little Christmas Tree,” and returned later to sing together with their dad on the usual “The Christmas Music.” Fortunate Daye was additionally scheduled to carry out however canceled owing to not feeling properly.
As at all times in years previous for this vacation live performance — and with no offense to the visitor stars who’ve appeared — the evening belonged to Surprise. The legend gave pretty much as good as he obtained from an already enthusiastic viewers that turned extra ecstatic every time he sat down on the keyboards or piano and easily sang. Early within the present, Surprise boosted the festive spirit already resonating across the venue when he carried out “What Christmas Means to Me,” singing to the unique instrumental observe recorded again within the ‘60s.
Shifting from a raucous sing-along to “I Want,” one in every of his many classics, Surprise celebrated the 50th anniversary of his 1972 album Speaking E-book. Starting with “You Are the Sunshine of My Life,” he then saluted his late ex-wife and co-writer Syreeta Wright (“Such an exquisite spirit”) with the transferring “Blame It on the Solar” earlier than closing the E-book suite with an emotional activate “You and I (We Can Conquer the World).”
Stated a tearful Surprise after an ensuing standing ovation, “I really like all of you a lot. I give all reward to God for all of the songs I’ve written or co-written. Should you perceive love, you’ll be able to’t spend one second entertaining the spirit of hate … Let’s present the world how one can love once more.”
With the clock ticking all the way down to after 11 p.m., Surprise gifted the viewers with a mini-concert. The set checklist included “Do I Do,” “I Love You Extra” with the aforementioned Brewer, “As,” “Ribbon within the Sky,” “I Simply Referred to as to Say I Love You,” “Residing for the Metropolis” and “Greater Floor.” Closing with one other Speaking E-book choice, the crowd-pleaser “Superstition,” Surprise introduced his youngsters and the live performance’s whole employees onstage.
Earlier than strolling offstage to “One other Star,” a smiling Surprise stated, “I needed to provide you all every thing I might provide you with … I really like you; God bless you — and we’re finished!”