Photos by Vickey Ford (Sneakshot) for Okayplayer
Plush red carpets line the halls of Washington, DC’s Kennedy Center. The goliath building’s face is furnished with 40-foot-tall gold pillars like Master P‘s grill at full-grin, its backside featuring a block-length terrace overlooking the Potomac and the capitol’s southern-most point; a fitting venue for the warm and regal-as-they-come, KING, to work their magic and let hearts rest.
The LA-based trio, comprised Paris and Amber Strother and Anita Bias, put on a radiant display as we all tucked into the Millennium Stage. Paris, captain of the KING-ly space vessel (her Nord, Motif and Moog command center damn-near steals the show, but certainly steers it) had spent some time in the bureaucratic bullpen as a student at The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz on Wisconsin Ave. This was almost a homecoming affair. But with roots in the capital and a bloodline of genius ivory-pushers to salute, la capitan was merely tipping her hat.
Taking the stage in knee-long robes with vibrant floral embroidery, the three-piece was set for their KenCen debut and pulled no stops for the crowd (who packed onto staircases, hallways and aisles) for an hour of righteous, soul-mending r&b. Of course they played the hits, wielding album standouts like “Supernatural,” “In The Meantime” and the show-stopping, chest-grabbing lilt of “Hey” (during which a grip of grown men could be seen wiping tears from their eyes.) They’d go on to perform “Love Song” and close with their visceral Robert Glasper collaboration “Move Love,” before bidding the audience farewell, glowing with gratitude and poise.
As they made way to greet fans, the setting sun breaking through the stage’s rear doors, a brief survey of the room revealed faces illuminated with purples, pinks and deep blues. It wasn’t just the album cover backdrop that had transplanted to the mugs of the masses, but the love, joy and resolve that poured out of each and every heavenly harmony, the same notes that compelled Prince to bring them under his paisley wing and hail the queens of KING.
Revisit the performance below and scroll through the gallery above for exclusive photos from the show. Their debut full-length album, We Are KING, is out now on iTunes.