rihanna-chris-brown_web.jpgSUNRISE – Clear Channel’s Y100 FM annual Jingle Ball concert brings out some of pop’s, rock’s, and Hip Hop’s hottest acts. Last year, top music producer Timbaland headlined the event with supporting performances by singer Natasha Bedingfield and Nelly Furtado.

This year, Jingle Ball 2008 was bigger and brighter than ever, especially with Grammy Award-winning and five-time Billboard Hot 100 number one-selling songstress Rihanna as the concert’s headline performer.

Looking around the BankAtlantic Center on Dec. 13, which during hockey season houses the Florida Panthers home games, you’d have thought you were in a modern-day Greek arena. Over 15,000 people, probably many under the age of 18, sat at all corners of the dark center, waving illuminated items and cell phones.  Scattered shimmering lights glistened and sparkled in the darkness along with loud screams and shouts as each performer did their thing on stage.

The concert began at 7 p.m. with a few up-and-coming artists, along with veteran performers, playing some of their latest hits, heard on heavy rotation on some of South Florida’s radio stations. As performer after performer put on a thrilling and heart-pumping show, many in the audience were anticipating the grand finale.

After being in a trance for a few hours, I looked down at my watch to notice it was after 11 p.m. I knew at this point the moment everyone was waiting for was soon to come. Boy, was I right…

As soon as I looked up… right in the center of the stage stood a bright gold and red encircled “R’’… which of course stood for “Rihanna.”

She quickly got right down to business with the performance of her latest hit, “Disturbia.’’

Walking down removable steps wearing a neon green tube top, fishnet stockings under a tie-dye splattered mini skirt and yellow happy face painted nails…Rihanna kept dropping hit after hit bringing everyone in the arena to their feet.

The treats kept coming as she sang her dance song “Please Don't Stop the Music,’’ which samples Michael Jackson’s 1983 hit single “Wanna be Starting Something.”

After what seemed to be a sudden, unplanned, abrupt transition between the next song, multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated artist – and Rihanna’s rumored main squeeze – Chris Brown, took the stage singing his most popular song “Forever,’’ bringing back the flow to the performance. 

Both Rihanna and Chris Brown came together to sing their duet “Umbrella/Cinderella.’’

Everyone sang along, and I confess that I was surprised myself with how many of the lyrics I knew. Nonetheless, Rihanna put on a great performance and demonstrated what makes her a true superstar in the making.

With such a strong fan base and a combined 12 top 40 hit singles in the United States alone thus far, expect to see a lot more from Rihanna in the years to come.


AP Photo/Evan Agostini. Singers Rihanna and Chris Brown perform at the Z100 Jingle Ball 2008 at Madison Square Garden on Friday, Dec. 12 in New York, a day before they performed at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise.