This Monday the gorgeously talented British R’n’b singer Mahalia was live at Kulturbrauerei. IndieBerlin was there and didn’t miss a beat of her performance.
Before Mahalia even hit the stage, the public was greeted with vivid purple lights illuminating a romantically decoration setting. Flower covered chandeliers were hanging from the ceiling, Mahalia’s mic, awaiting her outstanding vocals, was also covered in colorful flowers. Flowers we then felt blossoming in our minds watching her perform.
As we were waiting for the show to start, a modern, tasteful playlist reinforced the playful and homelike atmosphere of the room. Cheer, sensuality, joy and a strong love for Destiny’s Child was floating in the air of Kulturbrauerei.
At her very celebrated arrival on stage, Mahalia warned us: “I have to tell you guys, I talk A LOT during my shows. So if at one moment you are annoyed by my talking, please tell me and I’ll stop”. Of course, we were all pleased to hear her and get to know her flamboyant personality that, for the whole concert, filled the room with incandescent warmth and laughter.
Mahalia started strongly with tracks such as Hide Out, Simmer, featuring Burna Boy, What you did, featuring Ella Mai, He’s Mine and Karma.
The first track, Hide Out, starts with an emotional recording of spiritual and artistic legend Eartha Kitt. The recording is taken from a 1982 documentary about Eartha Kitt’s life titled « All by Myself: The Eartha Kitt Story ». The documentary seems to be quite popular in the music industry as it was previously used in Jay Z’s 4:44 album in his song of the same name, 4:44.
If both tracks are about love and its complexity, the moment chosen by the two talented artists are, however, not the same. In the beginning of Mahalia’s Hide Out we can hear the interviewer and Eartha Kitt saying:
Journalist: Can anyone live with Eartha Kitt?
Eartha Kitt: That’s not for me to decide. That’s for someone who decides to live with me to decide. Not for me. (At that moment of the song, we can start hearing a powerful and mesmerizing choir, dancing with Eartha’s words of wisdom).
Journalist: But are you willing to compromise within a relationship?
Eartha Kitt: To compromise? What is compromising? Compromising for what? Compromising for what reason?
Mahalia’s album title was a probable homage to this particular moment of the documentary in which Kitt expresses the danger of losing oneself in compromises. Like most of Mahalia’s songs, Hide Out is about knowing your worth in a relationship and putting yourself first. In her lyrics, a strong will for self love can be felt as well as an empowering and impressive confidence that the singer teaches her audience at only 21 years old. We can hear her chant: « I was here the whole time, you were busy chasing / You don’t know what you had, I’m amazing » as well as: « Look me in my eyes and tell me you never loved me ». From the beginning of the show, Mahalia hypnotizes her audience with her ease to move, dance and catch our breath onstage. The powerful emotional resonance of her songs was emphasized by her talented live band as well as her glowing presence.
As she previously said, Mahalia likes to entertain her audience by sharing her experiences and stories in between songs. Her wit and love for her fans were very much appreciated during her performance. As she told many anecdotes, some were particularly relatable and honest. She speaks about the song He’s Mine: « You know I often describe myself as a girl’s girl. And when I say I’m a girl’s girl, I don’t mean that I’m gay, because I love men you know, I love penis. But I always felt this connection with women, this unique connection that you have with your mother, sisters and friends. And there was a moment in my life during which I was with this guy and his ex girlfriend came back to town. At first they started texting, which I didn’t mind at all. Then there was the calling, then emails and one day, she showed up at my door. And BECAUSE I’m a girl’s girl, I couldn’t really say anything. I told my boyfriend : « You deal with this, it’s your business ». And that’s true it wasn’t my place to talk to her. But I needed to express myself so I did what I do best, I thought about it a lot, had many dreams about it and wrote a song ». The lyrics from the track made even more sense after Mahalia’s relatable story: « I know that you want what you can’t have (uh) / You had your chance, let it slip right through your hands », « He’s mine / So don’t ask around, checkin’ up if he’s alright / You don’t need to worry, he’s mine ». She performed it with certainty and a detached attitude that proved, once again, her incredible maturity.
Mahalia also told many stories without needing any words. As she performed the very sexy and rhythmic Simmer, featuring Burna Boy, she carried her whole audience in an intense sensuality, emanating from her body and attitude. We, the audience, were following her every move, trying to keep up with her striking sexual charisma and assurance. The band behind her, that she later acknowledged with affection, was brilliantly supporting her vocals and spontaneous choreography.
What you did, featuring Ella Mai, is another powerful track in its heavy emotional meaning and unique musicality. Once again, Mahalia doesn’t hold back and delivers her heart onstage with an impressive cadence. Generosity could define Mahalia’s performance as she delivers vocally, artistically and humanly. As the show goes on, we become more and more acquainted with her touching and strong character, her go-to moves and her unforgettable flair for humor. A particular moment that held the audience together was the much awaited performance of her hit song Sober. It seemed as if we were attending a full circle moment as Mahalia’s performance at the Berlin based Colors Show, gave rise to her visibility to a wider audience. Her Colors performance of Sober has, of today, 37 million views. As she hinted the first note of the song, the crowd started happily chanting the track. And we were leaving the ground for a heavenly performance.
As she announced she was about to sing her last song, we all knew I Wish I Missed My Ex was the one missing in the show, which made the audience both excited to hear it and sad that this profound musical and emotional moment with Mahalia was over. Such joy could be felt in the room, I expected Kulturbrauerei’s lights to burst out of positivity. But before she left, Mahalia made sure we knew what to learn and remember from her performance: « I want you to remember that when you have to fight for something, fight a little harder. When you need to believe in something, believe a little more than you usually would. When you have to work hard, work a little harder. And, my boys, please look after yourselves, we have enough stupidity in our world so please be nice and respectful. My girls, believe in yourselves, put yourself first and NEVER listen to people when they tell you you have to wear a bra, because you don’t ! ». Mahalia then blessed us with an energetic and confident dance routine on Lizzo’s tracks Truth Hurts that was playing after the end of her show.
Mahalia’s brilliant debut album Love and Compromise is out since the 6th of September. Listen to it without moderation. Feel yourself on Simmer, relate to Hide Out, chant the amazing Sober and don’t forget to be inspired by the incredible positivity and maturity Mahalia puts in her music.
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Photo credit: Kania Iwana