Most of us didn't make it to the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, so TV One is once again offering a taste of the event with "TV One Night Only: Live From the Essence Music Festival 2010" at 9 tonight.
It's just a sampling of the talent assembled but you'll get to see performances by Jill Scott, Charlie Wilson, Gladys Knight, Monica, Keri Hilson, LL Cool J, Earth, Wind & Fire (who, with some controversy, took perennial closing act Frankie Beverly & Maze's spot), Raphael Saadiq, Alicia Keys, Trey Songz, Janet Jackson and Mary J. Blige.
This kind of presentation is all about the selection, and I have some bones to pick. I would have gladly traded both performances by, and the behind-the-scenes chat with Trey Songz (I just don't get the appeal) for more from Jill Scott and Raphael Saadiq. I like Keri Hilson, but she's shown performing "Knock You Down," a song that requires Ne-Yo and Kanye West to soar, and neither was there. So why not leave her out and give us some more Gladys Knight? I mean, it's GLADYS KNIGHT!! And, by the way, if her voice has lost anything, I can't hear it.
Forget calling Janet "Miss Jackson"; she's elevated to Ms. The show reveals that there's something more womanly than cute about her now, a certain gravitas, if you will. She sings "Rhythm Nation" and her newest song "Nothing," although I'm not sure she actually sang a single word of that song live.
Alicia Keys, I thought, gave a stellar performance of "Diary"; she also performs "No One." Naturally, Mary gets the final spot. Her sartorial pick of hot pants and gladiator cut-out boots? Unfortunate. But her rendition of "No More Drama" scores.
Tune in and share your own critiques.