Saturday, May 27th

Doors open 5:30; show begins at 7:30pm

Rain date Sunday, May 28th (same times)

 

 LA’PORSHA RENAE La’Porsha Renae started singing at six years old. Her first stage? The bathroom in her mother’s beauty shop. “Her clients heard me singing Alicia Keys’ ‘Fallin’,’ one of my absolute favorite songs. But they thought it was the radio,” La’Porsha recalls with a laugh. “Then after turning the radio off, they realized it was me in the bathroom. From that point on, my mom had me sing for all of her clients.” La’Porsha’s riveting voice has been wowing music fans from bigger stages since then: as runner-up on the 15th and final season of American Idol to her single “Battles” being tapped as the theme song for the gold medal-winning U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. The 19 Recordings/Motown Records singer/songwriter now finds herself back on center stage preparing to introduce her winter 2017 debut album. Leading the way is the yet-untitled set’s first single, the mid-tempo anthem “Good Woman.” The track’s gritty, soulful tone—paired with La’Porsha’s distinctive, power-packing vocals—definitively underscores the singer’s hard-won but sweet career victory in the face of such challenges as domestic abuse, divorce and single motherhood. “’Good Woman’ is that in-your-face song that many fans have requested from me,” says La’Porsha, who co-wrote the lyrics. “It’s a relatable song that celebrates who a good woman is and her sense of empowerment.” But as the singer also stresses, her upcoming full-length project is more than just “another mad album about cheating.” While channeling the greats she admires like Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Prince and Whitney Houston, La’Porsha brings a fresh, young vibe to a collection of original songs conveying a range of emotions from being in love to just having fun. “R&B, funk, dance … you’ll hear all of that and more,” notes La’Porsha of her diverse style. “But there are two constants in my music: I never sing something I don’t believe in, and I never sing a song without having a vision for it. If I’m listening to a song and nothing comes to my head visually, then that’s not the song for me.” It’s ironic then that even though she loved to sing, the one vision that didn’t come to her was turning that talent into a career. Instead, the precocious youngster saw herself as a teacher, writer and then a lawyer. “I’ve got a mouth, so I was always challenging my parents,” says La’Porsha. “In fact, they’d always tell me, ‘You’ve got the mouth of a lawyer. That’s what you need to be.” However, a turning point occurred in ninth grade after her family settled in McComb, Mississippi, a small town outside of Jacksonville. Having sung duets in church, La’Porsha and her younger sister had begun entering and winning school talent shows and vocal competitions at neighboring music festivals. So when one of La’Porsha’s ninth grade instructors asked the class to talk about the careers they envisioned, the teen declared, “I’m going on American Idol,” one of her family’s favorite TV shows. “And there’s no plan B. It will work out.” She did audition, but it didn’t work out. She only made it as far as the show’s general cattle call, with the show’s producers suggesting the 16-year-old return when she was a bit older. “My dream was crushed,” she says. “But I took it as God saying I didn’t have enough to sing about at that time.” Over the next several years, La’Porsha experienced more about life than she anticipated. Married at 18, she soon became a victim of her air force husband’s domestic abuse. And that’s when her lifelong love of music kicked back in as her salvation. “God saved me through music,” she remembers of that period. “I sang a lot and wrote a lot. I even started a song interpretation journal that I still keep. I write down the title of a song that really moves me and then dissect the song by time codes, detailing exactly what I feel at those precise moments.” But it was the birth of her now 18-month-old daughter that served as La’Porsha’s ultimate wakeup call (“When she came, all games were set aside”). Having built up the courage to press charges, she left her ex-husband in April 2015 and found herself auditioning a second time for American Idol that June. “I was living in a women’s shelter when I first auditioned again; my circumstances were crazy,” says La’Porsha. “But as I started doing all these auditions, this time I was hearing yes after yes after yes.” Indeed, her compelling performances of such songs as Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama” and Rihanna’s “Diamonds” captivated a growing contingent of fans each week. And though La’Porsha’s season finale performance of “Battles” earned her the runner-up crown, there was no denying her natural, God-given talent. A recording contract with 19 Recordings/Motown quickly followed. Having come a long way from that beauty shop bathroom, La’Porsha is ready to musically reveal everything she wasn’t able to on the show. And that all boils down to one word: authenticity. “I never ever want fans to start idolizing me,” she explains. “I go through what they go through. I’m real; someone who’s never been afraid to say what I feel I need to say. And that’s not going to change because more people know my name.”

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