By STEPHANIE MICHELLE HARRIS
Palms sweating, knees shaking, with butter- flies in my stomach, the anticipation to see eight time Grammy award winning Usher Raymond grew stronger and stronger. Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds had just finished enlivening the crowd with his serenade of chart toppers that he wrote, produced, or performed – or even a deadly combination of the three. The audience embraced the stroll down memory lane and the energy of a family reunion consisting of thousands of people filled the atmosphere. As both men and women were singing along to every lyric of Babyface’s smash hits as loudly as their esophagus’s would allow, Usher awaited behind the scenes.
As the headliner for Sunday night’s show, Mr. Raymond finally graced the stage and my heart began racing faster than Usain Bolt. I immediately jumped to my feet and sang along to his opening song, O.M.G. He went down the list of his number one singles including Confessions, Burn, There Goes My Baby, You Don’t Have To Call, I Don’t Mind, and more.
Throughout his performance, my chair and my tail feather were not on the same page. I sang and danced until I drained the little bit of energy I had left. As each song began, I remembered the time I first heard it. I remembered the feeling I had when I cried the first time I saw Usher in concert at the American Airlines Arena over 10 years ago. He made me feel like that little girl again, yet also made me feel like a grown a** woman.
Usher’s stage presence, talent, and sex appeal make him a legend. His ability to dance his behind off and hold the most beautiful note simultaneously sets him far from entertainers today. His passion for music exudes involuntarily with that gorgeous, contagious smile that appears every few seconds. He connects with his audience in a way that convinces you you’ve met him before.
The 37-year-old artist still moves like he’s that 14-year-old kid on Star Search. He unapologetically lets the music consume him and dances like he’s alone in his room. Watching him groove compels you to groove along too.
In an attempt to distinguish his true Usher fans, he sang songs from his older albums that hadn’t been played on the radio like Superstar, and Bad Girl. While other people were starting to sit, I remained standing and belting out the words like he was looking for me personally. I sang along to those songs the same way I used to do when I was singing to the Usher poster hanging in my bedroom in the 7th grade.
Usher brought me back to a time when life was simple. He made me forget about all of the struggles and stress and just made me feel good. As a performer, your sole purpose is to do just that.
Usher’s Jazz in the Gardens performance was exceptional from start to finish. I left Sun Life Stadium feeling satisfied, but also craving another chance to experience the emotional roller coaster he had me on. I’m ready to buy my tickets NOW for the next time he’ll be in South Florida and I’m not even sure when that will be.