Ro James Brings Along His Musical Friends ' The Jackets' To Tear Down Highline Ballroom
It was a night to celebrate the family a person gets to choose - friends, and R&B crooner Ro James, which we first featured on our #Discover Series, felt there was no better way to do so than to open up Highline Ballroom to his fans and supporters all in the name of great music and greater bonds.
Kicking the show off with a rendition of "Pledge Allegiance" that quickly got the crowd pumped for a great night of performances, Ro James was sure to let everyone know that they should expect his friends to come throughout the night and share their own heart's song. Ro's three-part project, "Coke, Jack, Cadillacs" was the centerpiece of the two hour set; the most endearing segment of the night was the all-star guest lineup that kicked off with Sonyaé Elise as she provided vocals for "XIX" and doing a beautiful job.
From looking around, it was evident that Ro James and his musician friends - Bridget Kelly, Stacy Barthe, Olamide Faison, Melanie Fiona, and Luke James - are not only their coveted kinship The Jackets, but are also spearheading a subculture in the R&B genre that could be best described as Bohemian Soul. When listeners want an alternate R&B experience that uplifts, encourages, excites and soothes each artist fulfills that request and you never have to be anyone but yourself when you attend a live performance because you're among friends you just haven't met yet.
Switching things up a bit, Ro James invited hip hop artist Asher Roth out to spit his verse from "Lisa", which surprised many but only increased the buzz in the performance space. Bridget Kelly guested for background vocals on the seductive "A.D.I.D.A.S." then delighted fans with her hit "Special Delivery" before handing the show back to Ro, who continued telling the story of his journey that began at the age of nineteen (hence his XIX moniker) as he performed "Indiana Jones", "We On" and "'84", a track he was fortunate to have collaborated with hip hop legend Snoop Dogg on.
Stacy Barthe was up next to share her beautiful story of friendship and personal triumph as she performed her single, "Flawed Beautiful Creatures", stating that she "had to lose it to find it" in reference to her inspiring 100+ pound weight loss recently. Olamide Faison sung alongside Stacy then launched into an acoustic version of "A Shot For" (verify title) that was extremely moving and spoke to everyone listening. Melanie Fiona was the next guest to appear and performed her track "Cold Piece" passionately and had the crowd moving the entire time.
The night was at 100 but quickly reached an uncharted level when Luke James appeared to perform "Oh God" and ripped the stage as only he can - falsetto runs, energy and all. Ro James returned to the stage to perform "Devil's Kiss" but not without his friends as all of his guests - all of his friends - hit the stage as well as supporting voices for the final song and sounding amazing as they did so. Feeling the love from the audience and onstage, Ro James decided to perform "Pledge Allegiance" one more time with his fellow Jackets and the moment was one to remember for a long while.
Ro James held his own throughout the night and proved that a crew that sings together gains success together. It felt as if the audience was treated to a look inside a night out with all of these talented artists and the entire scene could have powered the soundtrack to a modern-day adaptation of the beloved '90s film "Love Jones", which fused love and poetry by way of an amazing artistic setting and an equally powerful soundtrack.
Congratulations to Ro James and all of his friends: Sonyaé Elise, Asher Roth, Bridget Kelly, Stacy Barthe, Olamide Faison, Melanie Fiona and Luke James for putting on a show that is quite unusual in this industry. Maybe this level of support and partnership will become a trend - if it produces historic nights like these, we're all for it.
editors note: Rockie Evans was also present. He is a member of The Jackets.