Charlie Wilson and Fantasia dazzled the crowd at a sold-out performance at the Hard Rock.



Special to South Florida Times

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Certain singers’ life stories are as much a part of their celebrity status as their musical body of work. Knowing the back story behind some of their songs has a way of endearing fans to popular R&B artists like Charlie Wilson and Fantasia, who performed at a sold-out show on May 11 at the Hard Rock.

When Wilson sang “I’m Blessed” from his current album, “In it to Win it,” for example, knowing the 11-time Grammy nominee has overcome drug and alcohol addictions, homelessness and about with prostate cancer gives the song deeper meaning.

Always an upbeat performer, Wilson delivered a lively show along with his 10-piece band and four background dancers.

He covered several of his oldies from his days with the Gap Band, like “Outstanding” and “You dropped a Bomb on Me;” as well as crowd favorites like “There Goes My Baby,” and “Charlie last Name Wilson” from his amazing solo career. he audience sang and danced throughout his roughly hour-long show including wardrobe changes that are a part of the Charlie Wilson experience.

Although Wilson tours regularly, fans never seem to grow tired of seeing him perform. He’s a staple at several annual musical festivals like Essence in New Orleans and has also appeared at Jazz in the Gardens.

He’s also a bestselling author with the 2015 release of “I Am Charlie Wilson,” his book that is now a New York Times and Washington Post best seller. Whether telling his story in a memoir or through his songs, Wilson’s staying power shows no signs of letting up.

Opening for Wilson was former “American Idol” winner, Fantasia, who showcased the vocals that helped her win the reality show competition in 2004.

During her show, Fantasia shared her infectious energy, quivering lip and down to earth demeanor that has endeared her to legions of fans. She put on an entertaining show that had the audience dancing and singing along when she did up-tempo jams like “No Time For It.”

Her fans took their seats to savor her rendition of “Summertime,” the Porgy and Bess classic that has been a regular part of Fantasia’s repertoire since her smoldering deliverance of it during the American Idol competition.

Fantasia’s generosity was also on display when she yielded the stage to her three background singers to share their vocal gifts. As each woman wowed the audience with vocals that could very well land each of them with solo careers, Fantasia stood behind them cheering them on before returning to the microphone to continue dazzling her adoring fans.