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UD Low Down: Flames Showcase @ Talent House

The Flames Collective end of year showcase provided the perfect opportunity to witness some exceptional performances, as we welcomed members new and old to the Talent House stage. Vocalist Baaba gives us the low down…
Baaba

The evening commenced with a soundcheck and a brief rehearsal to run through our set list of five songs. Michael handled this as our sound technician, and because of his outstanding work, the event ran smoothly. After that, we went to the members hub in Talent House, which is a nice area to unwind and relax in between rehearsals, while friends, family and invited guests entered our space awaiting the main show.

This was my first time presenting in front of an audience, but I quickly forgot about this as I rode the enthusiasm of the audience and the thrill of the evening. I gave a brief introduction before we started singing our original song, ‘FaceTime’ (shameless plug, the EP is coming soon), ‘My Hood’ by Ray BLK, and ‘Levee’ by Tiana Major. Both the audience at Talent House and those viewing via our Tiktok livestream (that had over 500 views) gave positive feedback.

This set the stage for the solos which came next. Let’s start with Samantha – an absolute powerhouse who completely mesmerised us with her narrative skills on the Etta James song ‘I Would Rather Go Blind’. It was such a beautiful moment to see Samantha’s developing confidence from being in Flames and – deeper than that – a real sense of clarity in her voice, despite this being her first time singing in front of an audience. 

The next act was Shelbee, who gave a simply stunning performance while singing ‘Simply Beautiful’ by Al Green. We were all in awe of Shelbee’s performance, from the delicate notes she utilised to open the song to her flawless transition into falsetto. Towards the end of our brief discussion, she mentioned that her voice had much improved since joining Flames, and this performance was evidence of that. 

Morgan sang an original song she’d written with her friend Kia, who plays the keys. I was stunned hearing this performed live. On the day of the showcase, Morgan gained a great deal of confidence that altered the song’s entire story. Morgan nailed it with the way she structured the song. We were able to travel with her since it had a clear beginning, middle, and end. As Morgan started to sing and share, it was clear that she was becoming more confident in herself. What a wonderful piece of work! 

Angel, who performed Barbra Streisand’s ‘The Way We Were’, came next. This performance could only be described as utterly ridiculous. For context, Angel, who has just turned 15 years old, did a rendition of a Barbra Streisand song with the soul and heart of a Southern Black woman who has stories to tell. The tears in the room said it all—that voice is a gift and a blessing to everyone who hears it. 

Concluding the solo section was Rashád, who sang the heck out of ‘Let’s Stay Together’ by Al Green. With his buttery vocals Rashád really embodies what Flames is all about. Not just an amazing vocalist, he also works hard to support other young people in discovering their voice (just like he did). Rashád has developed as an artist over the course of his many years at UD: hard work has brought him this far and we are fortunate to be able to see such talent. 

Rashad

We ended the night off with ‘Worth It’ by RAYE. After our collaboration with her for her live album, recorded at the Royal Albert Hall, this was a beautiful way to honour her. Lastly, we sang ‘My Mind’ by Yebba, a song we love to sing as Flames. The harmonies completely took everyone by surprise and it erupted into a jam session where we sang our own renditions of ‘God Is A Woman’ by Ariana Grande and ‘Proud Mary’ by Tina Turner. What a beautiful way to end a year of hard work and dedication!

Andy Gilbert, our Musical Director, deserves a huge thank you for his tireless work with the group. We can’t wait to see what 2024 brings for Flames Collective. For now, though, good bye, and may you have a beautiful Christmas and prosperous New Year.

Andy Gilbert

Baaba 🙂 

Photography: Joey Hoang

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