This is one of those performances that leaves me utterly speechless. But, really, what can I say? Lauryn Hill was completely barenaked in this piece, exposed and open for the world to see. She wasn’t the pop star or R&B starlet that sold over a million copies of her debut. She was simply Lauryn, a woman with a guitar and a voice, creaking and rocking with heartache and honesty.
The performance was so powerful, her emotion so raw, it prompted Kanye West to actually sample a never before released song, “The Mystery of Iniquity.” With words as mighty as weapons, Lauryn Hill went on an emotional tirade and released her soul on to the audience, providing them an experience I’m sure they’d never had before… and probably not ever since. Truly, this is one of the most incredible performances it’s ever been my pleasure to witness.
As probably one of my favourite vocalists of all time, Concha Buika is without a doubt a legendary presence. Her voice sends chills throughout every part of my body, but it’s not just her vocal mastery that impresses me. It’s her raw honesty, her openness, uncorrupted by the whims of the music business.
Her performance of “Mi Niña Lola” is no exception. I’m not quite sure where this performance was held, but it’s definitely indicative of her style of performing. She gives her entire soul to her audience, allowing each member to take a piece of her and wrap it around themselves. She opens her heart and her voice to the people around her and let’s them feel exactly what it is that shapes who she is as a human being. Her raw power and unapologetic brazenness is one of the many reasons why she will always be one of the most incredible musicians it’s ever been my good fortune to know.
Perhaps the most incredible performances of any artist came in the form of an 11-year-old and his incredibly talented brothers. The Jackson 5 was one of those rare moments in music in which everything was perfect, from the vocals to the costumes. Every bit of their performances was full of magic and the charisma of a child who seemed to know more about love than most of his adult contemporaries.
Indeed, when Smokey Robinson gave the group his 1960 lover’s lament “Who’s Loving You”, suddenly the song became more than just the coo of an ex-lover. It became an ache and a yearn, a cry for forgiveness. It raised the question, what the hell does a child still in grade school know about the intricacies of love? What has he been through in his life to be able to produce a performance and sound like the one on the Ed Sullivan Show, where the group gave one of the best performances of the song in 1969? It’s a particularly poignant piece of history that shall never be repeated no matter how many groups with kids you try to concoct. It wasn’t the precociousness of the lead singer. It was, in fact, his level of maturity, his ability to feel every single thing he sang about as if it were a part of his very young life. This performance of “Who’s Loving You” is no exception, setting the standard for performers and singers inexplicably high. It’s truly one of the best, most honest performances I’ve ever seen, lasting just over two minutes, and yet still being a raw, unapologetic look into the soul of the singer. But what do you expect from the world’s finest entertainer?