Review: NY Pops Hosts an R&B Dance Party With Their ‘Heart and Soul’ Concert
By Megan Wrappe, Contributing Writer, February 6, 2018
There was a palpable excitement in Carnegie Hall on Friday evening February 2 prior to The New York Pops’ Heart and Soul concert conducted by Steven Reineke. Even before the conductor’s first downbeat, the audience seated around me were already dancing and singing; I should’ve known then that this was just a taste of how the entire evening was going to go.
On the program were a number of well-known R&B classics from artists such as James Brown, Stevie Wonder, and John Legend. Performing alongside The New York Pops were Broadway veterans James Monroe Iglehart and Capathia Jenkins. I had the pleasure of seeing Jenkins on Broadway in Newsies, where her energy was omnipresent in every scene she was in. I had never seen Iglehart in action, but he has garnered significant credentials through his long tenure as the Genie in the Broadway production of Aladdin before joining the company of Hamilton last spring.
Kicking off the first act of the show was a mashup of Earth, Wind, and Fire hits, including the group’s notorious hit “September.” It was impressive how well an instrumental version of this song worked since the vocals of the original are so unique. Taking the stage for the first time, Iglehart and Jenkins sang a beautiful rendition of “You’re All I Need to Get By,” showing how well the two played off of each other both physically and emotionally. It was now clear this was not going to be your run-of-the-mill concert — this was going to be more of a dance party housed inside Carnegie Hall.
The entire first act was energetic and soulful, but the standout numbers hands down were Iglehart’s performance of Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” and Jenkins’s tribute to her favorite singer Gladys Knight singing her hit “Midnight Train to Georgia,” as well as a Whitney Houston mashup of “I’m Every Woman” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” receiving standing ovations for both numbers.
During the second act, Jenkins and Iglehart took the stage again for a groovy version of “Heard It Through the Grapevine.” Jenkins was able to put her own spin on her favorite Michael Jackson tune, “Rock with You.” Then Igelhart showed off his more sensitive side with a beautiful, moving performance of John Legend’s “Ordinary People,” earning the audience’s enthusiastic standing ovation. Though it was a hard number to follow, The Pops did with an energetic rendition of James Brown’s “Papa’s Feeling Good.” Iglehart was feelin’ so good, he made an impromptu stage entrance to moonwalk and groove all over the stage, saying “Sometimes you just gotta move.”
If you thought one Whitney Houston number wasn’t enough, Jenkins left the audience speechless performing Houston’s signature version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” once again receiving a thunderous standing ovation for her melodious, angelic voice. Closing out the evening were two of my favorite R&B numbers, “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” and then an encore of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” This was definitely one of the most energetic Pops concerts I’ve ever attended.
I’m looking forward to all the New York Pops future concerts, as it seems there’s no genre of music this orchestra isn’t capable of mastering and performing at the highest level imaginable. Make your plans to attend now.
The New York Pops in concert at Carnegie Hall on Friday, February 2, 2018. Steven Reineke, Music Director and Conductor; guest artists: James Monroe Iglehart and Capathia Jenkins.
Cover: James Monroe Iglehart and Carpathia Jenkins with Steven Reineke conducting the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall; photo: Richard Termine.