The popular Broadway musical Rent posed a great question: how do you measure a year? As an entertainment writer and photojournalist, I’m a bit biased to music. I spend a majority of the year in a music hall or Amphitheatre, so that’s where most of my memories lay. As the year comes to in, I’m often asked what my favorites shows, so I decided to compile a list. Here are my top shows of 2017.

Charles Bradley (Sloss Furnace)

The 68-year-old crooner, known for his impressive range and soulful delivery, commanded the stage last Summer at the Sloss Music & Arts Festival.  Bradley sung like it was last night on earth, but ,little did we know, it would be one of his final live performances.  Unfortunately, the singer succumbed to cancer in September. A highlight of the show was his chilling performance of “Changes”, a song that he dedicated to his late mother. Many might recognize the emotionally clad ballad from the new Netflix animated series “Big Mouth”, but nothing could compare to hearing it flood the festival grounds.


After their highly-anticipated reunion at Essence fest, members Kandi Buress, Tameka “Tiny” Harris, Latocha Scott, and Tamika Scott decided to keep the party rolling with their “The Great XSCAPE” reunion tour, which included a stop in the Magic City. Tamar Braxton, Monica , June’s Diary and Harris’ daughter Zonnique served as the supporting acts. James Wright Chanel, the star behind the viral Patty Pie video, made a special appearance alongside Braxton for her performance of  “Love & War”.

In early interviews, Buress, who landed a brief residency on Broadway, announced that she wouldn’t joining the girls for future music. Those that attended, the show may have the seen the last performance with all four original members.

Janet Jackson ( BJCC)

After three years of waiting, Birmingham was blessed with a performance from Big Freedia (Saturn Bar)

The self-proclaimed Queen of Bounce, shook the walls of Avondale with his unique New Orleans sound, invoking patrons to free their inhibitions and vibe with high-tempo and repetitious melodies. While not considered traditional music, Freedia and her accompanying bounce minions radiated a certain energy that commanded the audience to shake what their mother gave them.

Mali Music ( 1st & 23rd)

The Georgia native filled the small downtown bar on a Thursday night.  Despite a small set, the contemporary Christian artist gave a grandiose performance of singles “Beautiful”, “Ready, Aim, Fire” and “Fight For You” from his critically acclaimed album Mali Is. On a side note,  before the show, former Mayor William A. Bell awarded Music with the key to the city.

BabyFace ( Legion Field)

Billed as the co-headliner for the Birmingham stop of Funkest, Kenneth Edmonds took the audience on nostalgia-laced journey of hits.  A legendary song-writer and producer, the 58-year-old not only sung songs from his chart-topping resume but paid homage to the myriad artists he wrote for such as Bobby Brown, Tevin Campell and Whitney Houston. The R&B crooner closed out his set, running through Legion Field and ultimately back onstage, belting a rendition of   Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road.

Bon Jovi ( BJCC)

After nearly 3 decades, the veteran rockers made their triumphant return to the Magic City in support of their recent album, This House is Not For Sale. Unlike their previous visit to Birmingham, the recent show marked the debut of Phil X , who replaced original member Sambora as lead guitarist. Jon Bon Jovi and crew didn’t fail to take old fans down memory lane, while also entertaining the new heads. To my knowledge, there wasn’t a classical hit the Hall of Famers didn’t sing, and if there was, the extensive set list probably couldn’t fit in.

Foo Fighters (BJCC)

Dave Grohl kicked off the show by warning fans that they planned on singing all their songs, so there wasn’t much for extra jibber jabber. Jumpstarting the 90 minute act with notable hits “ Born to Fly” and “ The Pretender”, the Foo Fighters became a juggernaut until the show’s close. Highlights from the show, included Grohl bringing an eager fan onstage to play “ Big Me” on guitar and a surprise appearance from former Squirrel Bait singer Peter Searcy.

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