Review: Ledisi Honors Nina Simone at Hollywood Bowl Concert

by Kevin Taft

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday July 27, 2021

Ledisi at the Hollywood Bowl
Ledisi at the Hollywood Bowl  

Multiple Grammy nominee (and 2021 winner) Ledisi took control of the Hollywood Bowl stage on Saturday night to perform selections from her new album, "Ledisi Sings Nina," and honor the legendary Nina Simone.

A powerful and soulful R&B singer, Ledisi began the evening with a bluesy performance of Simone's signature tune "Feeling Good." As she wound her way through some of Simone's classics — and even some of her lesser known tracks — Ledisi commanded the stage every step of the way.

For 80 minutes Ledisi brought Simone's work to life, hypnotizing the audience with her pure and soulful vocals, and a stage presence that grabbed attention throughout. She took a few brief spins to promote her own work, including her recent Grammy Award-winning "Anything for You," but otherwise it was the insightful music of Nina Simone that ruled the night.

From "My Baby Just Cares for Me" to "Be My Husband," as well as the haunting classic "I Put a Spell On You," Ledisi offered a spellbinding night of jazz and blues that often brought to mind Simone, but also reminded us that Ledisi is a formidable star in her own right.

Along with the LA Philharmonic, conducted by the always charming Thomas Wilkins, the music soared like never before, with the horns and strings elevating each piece to rapturous applause.

Wilkins opened the first half of the night with pieces from Duke Ellington's "Three Black Kings" and "Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's "Danse Negre, No. 4 from African Suite," and ended with Bach's "Fantasia and Fugue in C Minor." All set the stage for the journey that Ledisi would take the Bowl audience on — and what a wonderful and joyous trip it was.


"Ledisi Sings Nina Simone" played the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday July 24th. For information about upcoming Bowl events, visit HollywoodBowl.org.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.