The following was originally written in April of 2014, but sat unfinished until July. My apologies for the delayed posting…
In the blink of an eye, two entire weeks have gone by since I packed up and prepared to leave Oklahoma City. Saying my goodbyes to my Candlewood family in OKC on a Friday, I then said hello to my new work family in Ann Arbor, MI the very next Monday. No break or vacation between the two cities, just a seemingly very short weekend.
But, a fabulous weekend, nonetheless.
I drove down to Dallas Friday night and, after getting a much needed bite to eat, crashed in my hotel room. The next day, I got to visit with an aunt, cousin, and cousin-in-law in the afternoon, before the real treat: seeing my cousin, Nicole Mitchell, perform at Dallas’ House of Blues. And she absolutely tore the roof off the dump.
First on stage, though, was a band out of Chicago called Vera Jean, which featured Marqueal Jordan on saxophone and lead vocals, Khari Parker on drums, Lamar Jones on bass, Jay Harris on keyboards, and Todd Parsnow on guitar. A VERY talented group of artists, they more than filled the role of “opening act.” I highly recommend downloading Marqueal’s album, “Catalyst,” from iTunes. After a few tunes from Marqueal and Vera Jean, it was time for Nicole to take the stage, and take the stage she did.
Striding with authority from behind her backup singers (Audrina Ferrel, and Maya Hook) to the beat of her original song, “Just Me,” Nicole immediately took control of the room, and refused to relinquish it until she got done. From original tunes taken from her own albums (also available on iTunes) to familiar covers, she and her band managed to weave their way from soul to disco to funk to rock to blues.
A special added treat happened when she invited her friend, and mentor, Preston Glass, to join her on stage. You may not recognize the name, but I promise you know his music. Having written and/or produced some of the biggest hits ever, Preston has worked with the biggest names in the biz. And while he is too modest to name-drop, all you have to do is Google him, and you’ll soon see why Nicole cherishes the time she gets to learn from the master.
There’s no way for me to say what song was my favorite, because she slayed them all. Sure, she’s my cousin, and I’m bound to be a little biased. But if you were there, if you saw the packed room jamming, clapping, dancing, and singing along, you know it’s not simple familial pride I’m spouting.
When Jay Harris began playing a few chords of a song, and I thought to myself “I KNOW she is NOT about to do ‘Tyrone.'” Yup. She did “Tyrone.” And she did it like the song was hers all along, too. Did she do Pharell’s “Happy?” Yup. But only because she really is that happy. And because she believes we need a lot more unity in the world, she closed the show by bringing the House down with “Come Together.”
The only person more proud of her that night was her mom, with whom I just happened to be seated. I’d like to think my dad, her uncle and himself an entertainer for over 30 years, would have loved her show. I’m sure he would be proud, just as I am, of the woman she has become.