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Mahalia Ends Tour With Passion and Pride at The Sinclair

October 26, 2019 | By Liliana Piña, Photos by Patric Song

Alternative R&B singer, songwriter, and actress Mahalia enchanted the sold-out crowd at The Sinclair on Oct. 23, her smooth, soulful vocals alluring the audience at every turn. The 21-year-old artist, who was born and bred in Leicestershire, England, wrote her first song at just eight years old, and was signed to Asylum Records UK (a subsidiary of Atlantic Records) at 13. She released her first EP, Never Change, in 2015 and has dropped several projects since then, including her debut studio album Love and Compromise. Released in September of this year, the album showcases Mahalia’s unique sound and features lyrics that explore what it means to love yourself and others as a young woman in our modern world.

Photos by Patric Song

When Mahalia emerged onstage, clad in a black open-backed crop top and matching joggers, the crowd welcomed her with an uproar of applause. Several fans screamed, “I love you!” as Mahalia beamed her dazzling smile at the audience. As her accompanying band emerged onstage, Mahalia greeted the crowd with excitement, before making a disclaimer about the show. This being her last stop on her U.S. tour, she was beginning to lose her voice and was scared that it would affect her music, so she asked the audience to shout the lyrics to her songs and help her sing them. The audience cheered at this revelation, and after Mahalia encouraged fans to just be in this room with her — without the distractions of cell phones or the worries of everyday life — she launched straight into her first song of the night, Do Not Disturb.

The crowd danced and swayed to the beat of the music as Mahalia effortlessly ran through the track, her body accentuating each and every lyric. Orange and red lights highlighted her feisty stage persona as she confidently strut in front of the audience, pausing to shake her hips every so often, much to the crowd’s delight. She ended the song with another show-stopping smile, before demurely telling the audience that she needed a moment. She disappeared backstage and reemerged with a cup of tea to soothe her sore throat. The audience was endeared by this act, several “aww’s” emanating from the crowd, and Mahalia returned to her calming hot beverage several times during the show.

As a preface to her next song, Mahalia talked about the strong women in her life, and expressed gratitude toward her mother, who played a pivotal role in both her music career and personal life. “This next song is one of my favorites of the minute,” Mahalia said as the tantalizing notes of Good Company trickled from the venue’s speakers. As the house illuminated with blue and green pulsing lights, Mahalia’s vocals turned sultry and sexy. She hugged herself as she sang the song’s meaningful lyrics, simultaneously demonstrating both her self-love and desire to be genuinely loved by another. The audience swayed gently to the beat, the small venue enveloping the intimacy of the song.

Photos by Patric Song

Stopping between each song to address the audience, Mahalia spoke about growing up as a “label baby” and told the audience how she spent years workshopping her sound. With powerhouse industry influences such as Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill, the self-proclaimed “sexy R&B princess” is more confident in her music than ever, and is excited to continue growing as an artist.

“I spend the majority of my life confused," Mahalia admitted later in the show, receiving a few empathetic cheers from the crowd in response. After talking about something that she begged the crowd to keep a secret (I promise I’ll never tell!), she added on to her previous statement, saying, “But I don't have time for you to be confused about what you feel about me." With that, she began to sing What Am I? The mood of the entire venue changed as Mahalia’s buttery vocals vibrated throughout the venue, the seductive purple stage lights matching her sensual sound. 

She then immediately dove into Simmer, a song off Love and Compromise that features popular Nigerian artist Burna Boy. The crowd began dancing in earnest as Mahalia whirled to the beat of the music, pausing center stage to move her body for all to see. 

After a brilliant acoustic performance of He’s Mine, also off Love and Compromise, she candidly addressed the crowd about her next song, saying “I had to have me cheeky moment on the album. I know she's good, but I know I’m better" — a line which elicited an eruption of applause as the first notes of Karma played. She then ran through several fan favorites, including Sober, Consistency, and Square One.

Mahalia rounded out her outstanding performance with none other than I Wish I Missed My Ex, her first and most popular single off Love and Compromise. Before leaving the stage, Mahalia thanked the audience for spending the night in her company, and expressed gratitude that she could end her tour with such a feel-good, upbeat performance — despite the challenges she faced because of her voice. She left the stage with one important message: “Don't let people tell you who you are.” With that, she gave the crowd one last bright smile and bid the audience goodnight. 

But that wasn’t the end. A few minutes later, music blared through the venue as Mahalia emerged onstage again. She ripped off her wig before shamelessly shaking her body along with the remaining audience members, sharing a special and authentic moment with them before truly finishing off the evening — her unapologetic and fun personality on full display.