Stevie Wonder Makes Rare Appearance in Support of Leela James at Los Angeles Show

Leela James gets a loving hug from Stevie Wonder at her LA Show - All photos by NOTES FROM VIVACE

Photos and Review by NOTES FROM VIVACE

LOS ANGELES – In support of her end of year 2023 album release Thought U Knew, Leela James gave a one hour twenty-minute performance that had the crowd holding their hands up because “there ain’t no party like a Leela James party.” She insisted that she only wanted party people up front. It seemed like the whole crowd was in a party mood.

The song “Complicated” perhaps highlighted the night. It was an extended version of the song that had her and her band pumping up the crowd and singing “What we gon’ do? Don’t make this complicated. So whatcha gon’ do? (Whatcha wanna do?). You know I really want you (and you want me too).” 

Shortly after “Complicated” she turned the night into a short DJ set and had a number of individuals join her on stage and dance to the tunes she selected. “California Love” by Tupac Shakur really had the crowd pumped as the venue floor vibrated from the heavy bass.

As the set headed towards an end, she took a well deserved rest on a high chair to sing a trio of songs. The songs took an emotional tone that was highlighted by the song “See Me.” The lyrics “Can you see me, I’m standing right here. Can you hear me? Singing so loud. And so clearly, tryna get through to you. And hoping that you understand,” hit the heart.

With those songs allowing her to catch her breath, she brought the tempo back up for the party people at the front. At this point, she mentioned how she needed to end her set. Was she teasing the audience? Was she having such a fun time that she just didn’t want to say good-bye? At one point, she blew a kiss to the audience and then started to walk off, but stopped and started on another tune. “We’ve got to leave,” she said. Someone came on stage and whispered to her, “We’ve got a flight to catch.” She just wasn’t ready to let that party atmosphere die down just yet.

Leela James and the group – All photos by NOTES FROM VIVACE

Of course, at some point any fun night of music has to end. And yet . . . as Leela James started to officially walk off stage to end the set, she stopped and turned to the audience to mention that there was a special guest coming to say hello. She looked over-whelmed. Why? It was Stevie Wonder. Many of the crowd who had slowly gone towards the exit came rushing back.

Wonder didn’t perform, but he had a message for her and the crowd: “We just came with the family to show some love and sing along, have a little wine, and just celebrate her great talent.”

They gave each other a loving hug.

Since we’re talking about endings, we can’t end the review with that.

Moment of the set: It had to be when she decided to switch shoes early in the set. She started the set in high heel black boots. Around twenty minutes into the set, she decided she was going with the more comfortable running shoes and switched shoes right on stage with the help of two of her dancers. There was no running off stage for a costume change, she did the switch right there on center stage.

What was noticed at the Fonda Theatre as doors were opened: as people were walking into the venue, there were a number of people who were of an older age group. A few of them did not know how to access their electronic tickets. One of the individuals working the door patiently helped each one of them. One also couldn’t help noticing that everyone’s IDs were checked for drink wristbands even though it was quite obvious that many of them were over the age of 21.

The night started with two quick twenty minute sets. Opening the night was Bee-B. She celebrated the fact that she won a 2023 Grammy for her writing for the Best R&B Album winner, Robert Glasper’s Black Radio III. Aryee The Gem had the killer vocals.

Check out the music of Leela James here: