03.28.2018

Deniece Williams, Kool & The Gang, Other Legends Prep For Shows In Northern California This Spring, Summer

Deniece Williams, Kool & The Gang, Other Legends Prep For Shows In Northern California This Spring, Summer

By Michael P Coleman

Fans of great R & B and pop music in northern California have a few good reasons to celebrate over the next few weeks. 

The phenomenal Deniece Williams will be taking the stage for two shows at Yoshi’s in Oakland on April 28.  At press time, Williams’ first show was sold out, but there are still tickets available for her 9:30pm show. 

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with THE HUB, Williams promised an unforgettable night of music and memories. 

“We’re gonna have a lot of fun,” the 67-year-old Williams exclaimed with an exuberant, still-girlish giggle.  “I always take the attitude that people are sitting in my living room, and we’re just conversing and talking with one another and hanging out, enjoying some great music and some funny stories.  It’s going to be an incredible time.” 

After a successful stint as a background singer for Stevie Wonder, Williams burst onto the national scene as a solo artist with her 1976 debut album This Is Niecy and the stunning “Free.”  Williams’ voice is a glass-shattering, four octave wonder that propelled hits like “Silly,” “Black Butterfly,” and the multi-format smashes “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” and “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late” (the first of her many duets with Johnny Mathis) to the top of the charts.

Johnny Mathis and Deniece WilliamsWilliams said she’ll never forget that first recording session with Mathis.

“I walked into that studio with utter respect,” Williams said.  “He’s a legend!  And I was a neophyte, having just recorded my second project.  I was so scared because I didn’t know what was going to happen or how he would be as a person. He came over and gave me a hug, and he started singing some of my music. I was so blown away that he would even know my music!  I told him I’d been in dress rehearsal for that duet for years — I used to watch Johnny on television, and I would be singing and harmonizing with him.  I loved his voice and of course how handsome he was and stuff.” 

“We went in and we sang it together,” Williams recalled of that first magical duet with Mathis.  “It just came out so beautifully.” 

From the beginning of her career, Williams also incorporated gospel and inspirational music into her recordings, blazing a trail for everyone from Whitney Houston to BeBe & CeCe Winans.  As she did so, she also racked up a handful of Grammy awards and collaborated with artists like Natalie Cole, Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey, and Contemporary Christian artist Sandi Patty. 

Williams promised that fans could look forward to her trademark fusion of pop, R & B, and gospel during her upcoming Oakland shows. 

“I start every show with a gospel song and a lot of times we end it that way, as well,” Williams said.  “I have to give God His first.”

If fans are lucky, Williams will share a preview of her upcoming album, her first ever jazz project, during her Oakland concerts.  If she performs jazz anywhere near as well as she’s sung R & B, pop, and gospel for the last four decades, fans will be in for an extra treat.

Also, the California State Fair has announced their 2018 concert series, and Kool & The Gang will be performing July 16.  Other Fair concert highlights include Con Funk Shun and The Spinners.  As always, concerts are free with the purchase of an admission ticket to the Fair on the day of the show. 

Information on Deniece Williams’ Oakland shows is available at yoshis.com, and information on the artist is available at deniecewilliams.com

Information on Kool & The Gang, Con Funk Shun, The Spinners and all California State Fair concerts is at CAStateFair.org

Look to THE HUB next week for more of our EXCLUSIVE interview with Deniece Williams!  

 Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.