Starting back in the late 1950’s when Sarah and Ella first traveled across the pond to Gaumont State Kilburn and The London Palladium respectively, United Kingdom concert audiences have been loyal supporters of African American female singers whether or not they had brand new music to perform.

Those pioneer jazz legends opened the international door for R&B and pop divas Aretha, Dionne and The Supremes to enter during the following decade and enjoy sold-out U.K. tours. The life-long devotion from high energy British fans mirrored the historic success of The Beatles in the United States.

Soul Motion’s long-awaited, “Soul Explosion” concert at the prestigious pitch-perfect Barbican Centre (starring three Black Music Queens who ruled the top of the Billboard charts during the 1980’s) was met with equal fervor and anticipation. It did not disappoint.

Sunday July 31st’s unforgettable London performances by iconic Grammy winner Regina Belle and legendary singer/songwriter/ producer/ musician greats Brenda Russell and Àngela Winbush received multiple standing ovations from a packed house. The excited crowd also had fun partying in the aisles between sets as they danced to incredible disco and soul music classics mixed by DJ Fifth Avenue who also served as the evening’s master of ceremonies.

Not only did each artist sing her number one hits and Grammy-nominated songs, but she also included cover tributes to soul music giants (now in heaven) on whose shoulders they proudly stand: Phyllis Hyman, Luther Vandross, Donna Summer, Teddy Pendergrass and the Prince of Motown Marvin Gaye.

It’s no secret that European fans have always been known to dig through the crates to champion the ‘album cuts’ by their favorite singers. Angela Winbush’s powerful rendition of ‘Secret Rendezvous’ (from her early Rene and Angela years) was clearly the highlight of the show for many in attendance.

Although it was announced that 5X Grammy-nominee Brenda Russell was suffering from a slight upper respiratory infection, her extremely rare live concert performance was warmly greeted with several thunderous ovations. Everyone sang along with her to each classic song knowing all the lyrics by heart.

Kudos and thank you to UK concert promoter Michael Fountaine and soul music historian/ founder David Nathan. Their diligence, perseverance and passion for music fueled the success of bringing these talented ladies to Europe despite three years of scheduling changes and setbacks in the thick of a global pandemic.

Plans have already begun for next year’s “Soul Explosion 2023” showcasing a new line-up of Black Music legends from America. It looks like it will be ‘another love TKO’ event indeed !!!

Darrell Hill
Black Entertainment Historian And Memorabilia Archivist