Jorja Smith and Kali Uchis perform with raw power and honesty

By AKEIRA JENNINGS | May 2, 2019

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COURTESY OF AKEIRA JENNINGS Jorja Smith delivered a raw and powerful performance alongside Kali Uchis at The Anthem

An undeniable electricity filled The Anthem as Jorja Smith and Kali Uchis kicked off their North American “Kali & Jorja Tour” this Sunday.

Fans from all backgrounds anxiously waited to enter the chic industrial venue, and excited cheers and shouts could be heard as soon as the doors were opened.

The 57,000-square-foot venue, located on the waterfront of Washington, D.C.’s newly renovated District Wharf, became a close and intimate space as British singer Jorja Smith glided onto the stage in a haze of warm lights.

Opening the show with her hit single “Teenage Fantasy,” her sultry vocals instantly captivated the room.

“There’s no need to rush / Take your time / Life’s a big old ride / Sit back and enjoy the vibe,” Smith sang.

“Teenage Fantasy” is a vibrant display of Jorja’s hypnotic prowess that is as much a testament to her age-defying wisdom as it is to her inviting persona that eased the audience into the melodic ride and vibe that awaited them. 

The audience swayed as the 21-year-old delivered her debut single, “Blue Lights,” with the same soulful power as the corresponding politically-inspired music video that artistically highlights issues of race and harmful stereotypes. 

“What have you done? / There’s no need to run / If you’ve done nothing wrong / Blue lights should just pass you by,” she sang. 

As blue lights flashed on the stage, her glowing silhouette kept all eyes fixated on both her and her message.

When asked to describe herself in a 2018 interview with the podcast NandoLeaks, Jorja described herself as “soulful and honest.” 

While her charming presence and unadulterated voice authenticates this self-assessment, her melodic lyrics and natural chemistry with the audience also displayed a raw vulnerability. 

“I sing whatever I want,” said Smith. “I know who I am and what I am doing, so it’s cool.” 

Although Jorja has released several singles since January 2016, she dropped her debut studio album, Lost & Found, in June 2018. She has also toured with Bruno Mars on his U.S. tour, collaborated with Drake on his More Life album and co-wrote the song “I Am” with Kendrick Lamar for the Black Panther soundtrack.

Both Smith and 24-year-old Colombian-American singer, Kali Uchis, have been in high demand. They received notable recognition for their 2018 debut albums, including award nominations both in the United Kingdom and at the prestigious Grammy awards.

Uchis released her debut project, Drunken Babble, in 2012. She has since released a 2015 EP, Por Vida, and her debut album, Isolation, in April 2018, which earned her a spot on Billboard’s list of “The 50 Best Albums of 2018.”

In addition to being a dynamic singer, Uchis has also been a music video director, songwriter, record producer and fashion designer. 

The songstress has also collaborated with many artists across multiple genres including Juanes, Bootsy Collins and Tyler, the Creator.

As the audience prepared for Kali Uchis to take the stage, anticipatory shouts echoed throughout the building, leading into a thunderous homecoming-like cheer. 

This was indeed her homecoming, as she is a native to both the Washington, D.C. area and to the spotlight that she effortlessly commands.

“Kali Kali Kali,” the audience chanted. “DMV [D.C., Maryland, Virginia], I love you,” Uchis belted out to the ecstatic crowd. 

The love was mutual. Fans screamed out words of affection and adoration with every body roll, twerk, spin and seductive move she made. 

In a Hot 97 interview, Uchis, born Karly-Marina Loaiza, discussed growing up between Colombia and Alexandria, Va. where she attended T. C. Williams High School. She also explained why her style was distinctly her own. 

“I don’t do anything for instant gratification or for the validation of other people because I feel like that’s a set-up,” Uchis said. “I just want to grow.” 

Detailing how her drive and story of hardships and growth led to her successes, Uchis explained that everything in life is about timing.

“If it’s meant for you, it’s meant for you,” Uchis said. 

Kali owned the stage and seemingly all of D.C. as she belted out lyrics from her hits like “Dead to Me,” “After the Storm” and “Your Teeth in my Neck.”

She was vibrant and alluring as fans hypnotically danced and sang along, completely engrossed in every note she soulfully delivered — this moment was truly meant for her.

Never one to disappoint, Kali ended her solo set by welcoming Jorja back to the stage where the two delivered chilling covers of songs by Erykah Badu and the late Amy Winehouse together. 

Respectively known for their genre-defying vocal abilities that casually intertwine elements of R&B, soul, reggaetón, pop, funk and jazz, Kali and Jorja were a match made in music heaven.

As the dynamic-duo ended the concert, fans sang along to their joint song “Tyrant,” which was released in June 2017.

“All I hear is sirens / In a world so violent / Would you be a tyrant?” the duo passionately sang. 

This tune fully encompassed their fluidity and genre-bending capabilities and was a great ending to the show. 

Leaving this psychedelic experience was somewhat sobering. 

Parting from the intimacy and warmth of The Anthem meant not only that we were being cast out into the chilly D.C. air but that we were back in reality, no longer under Kali and Jorja’s intoxicating spell. 

Visit The Anthem this summer for more dynamic performances, and check out the upcoming tour dates for Kali and Jorja so that you might be able to experience some of the magic and amazing atmosphere for yourself.

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