Lahla entered the setting, walking down the side steps and onto the stage, greeting her guest to the tune of Mary J. Blige’s Nobody. Her sensational band provided the backing to her entrance that captivated the audience from the first measure. Lahla kept the Blues Alley crowd excited as she reeled off a melody of up-tempo songs until she broke down the pace and romanticized them with her tantalizing slow songs.
Lahla’s stage presence was equal to anyone I have seen in my 40 years of concert attendance. Her confidence on stage was noticeable as she inspired the audience to jam along with her.
Lahla’s band is called The Tone of Lah. Tonight, the band consisted of some very talented local musicians and singers. Providing the sensational background sound on the keyboard was Deon Wrenn. Being a keyboard player myself, I often caught myself tuning into his skills and trust when I say he was on point. Just the right sound and accompaniment for each song.
The thumping rhythmic sound that kept everyone on beat was provided by D’Wayne Sumlin. Nothing makes a band sound good and on point than a drummer with perfect timing and a balanced beat.
The bass guitar is another instrument I played in my past and it remains the sound I love the most. If you get someone on bass who is as talented as Lahla’s husband, J Castro, you are blessed. His phenomenal bass playing had everyone in the audience swaying to the musical sound. His bass solo on his release Baby, I Love You brought a rise to the already hyped-up crowd.
Together, these musicians put out a musical sound unmatched by any band in the Washington DC metro area.
The background singers were amazing! Regardless of the microphones issues, this group that consisted of soprano Mycah Chevalier, alto Lay-T.C. (Laylah-Tone’ Castro) and tenor Chauncey Stephenson stayed on point. Chauncey brought down the house with his version of Teddy Pendergrass’ Close the Door. This was a very surprising addition to the evening. We all knew Lahla’s talent going in, but hearing this young man makes anyone anticipate a solo album by him in the future.
Lahla and Chauncey also added Freddy Jackson’s Rock Me Tonight to the list of hit songs performed. The duet’s version of the popular song drew the crowd into it. Everyone, including myself, jumped in when the chorus came around.
As the show progressed, Lahla blessed us with her new single, I Throws It Down. Lahla rapping displayed another side of talent. The recording has her doing all the vocals. The smooth sound and the lyrics professing her love and loyalty are her signature, and this song exemplifies that sound.
The show closed with Gwon Home, a tribute to her kids, Johnnie Nehemiah, Laylah Tone’, Neaeh Kathleen, Marc Anthony, Lajohnae Dawana Marye, and Lara Louelle. I know Lahla personally. If you met her, you know she has love for her family and her children. They mean everything to her, and she testifies to that love through her music. If you have a chance to catch a show, do so. You will not regret it.