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Queen Latifah

Why did that girl ever rap?

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I walked into the Pantages Theater last night with exact notions on how I felt about Queen Latifah and what her performance would look and feel like.

I walked out after finding all of these notions to be true.

  1. Queen Latifah is beautiful.

  2. Queen Latifah is multi-talented.

  3. Queen Latifah is down to earth

  4. Queen Latifah has a great sense of humor.

  5. Queen Latifah makes me proud to have curves.

But the most important notion of all that everyone discovered last night was this:


Let me tell you how last night went.

The Pantages looked as majestic as always and the room seemed to contain the perfect amount of heat and steam with the sold-out warm bodies around me, or maybe that was just because I had to run up Ninth Street in the stupid rain to get there on time.

The whole audience was a-buzz before the show with several kinds of ages (mostly 30 all the way up to 70), ethnicities and flavors. I've never felt so much excitement and anticipation in this city.

Many were dudded up, dressed to the 9, to take in the swanky jazz, blues, soul and hip-hop that would follow.

We all sat there, waiting for the queen's arrival, seeing so many instruments and microphones, and before I could take in a full inventory of the instruments, the amazing Benjii Bittle from the Broadway Center for Performing Arts appeared, and it was on.

Bittle was sure to remind us that there are queens in Tacoma too, which made the audience roar with laughter and applause.

Many confessed to Bittle that it was their first time ever in the Pantages and I'm sure it won't be their last.

After some very brief welcoming statements, Latifah’s (I think) 11-piece band with three back-up vocalists emerged. With that kind of lineup, we all knew that this would be a hot show.

When she emerged on the stage, all I could think (and everyone around me agreed) was that she looked absolutely stunning. She was wearing a casual white wrap blouse, navy denim jeans, flip flops with sparkles, a glimmer-shimmer necklace and silver bracelets that jingle like my own. She had a layered haircut that went just to her shoulders and all of the above was complemented with beautiful blue eye shadow. Naturally, in between songs she showed her easy, breezy, beautiful side while applying two fresh layers of lip gloss on stage. Sweet!

Latifah was sure to let us know that this was the last night of her tour, which really made her performance all the more exciting.

She first delivered Sinatra’s “I’m Gonna Live Till I Die” and then she and her band jammed their way through cuts from her latest album, Trav’lin Light, like “Poetry Man” (a beautiful Phoebe Snow song), “Georgia Rose” (which on her album features Steve Wonder on harmonica), the Hairspray song, “I know where I’ve been” and her title track, “Trav’lin Light.”

She carefully responded to the audience members who were oozing with all kinds of praise like “YOU GO GIRL!” and “I LOVE YOU, LATIFAH.” One audience member said she saw Chicago 25,000 times, so Latifah teased us with a piece of her song from that musical, “When You Treat Mama Good.”

At one point, several audience members, including myself, couldn’t stand it anymore and we screamed “OLD SCHOOL!!!!!” and Latifah gave us a jazzy version of U.N.I.T.Y. I was really willing to bet that this was one of the first times that many people in that room have ever appreciated hip hop.

In a moment of tenderness, Latifah brought her father on stage, who looked so handsome in his black suit with a royal blue tie. He offered kind words of support and love for his daughter, but then ended with the most fatherly advice of all: “Drop it like it’s hot!” YAH!

Nearly every song she sang received some sort of standing ovation, which just goes to show how strong her voice is.

I was a little surprised that she chose to cover the Mama and the Poppa’s “California Dreamin’” before her finale because even the crappiest of karaoke singer could conquer that one, but she still pulled it off with grace and style.

The Queen performed “Lush Life” from her Dana Owens album as her finale, which sent the crowd chirping as they left about all of her many talents.

Pappi Swarner’s mom was somewhere in the crowd, and I’m sure she’d agree: That was a great show.

The BCPA done right with this one.

As a hip-hop fan of the Queen since seventh grade, I’ll now leave you with a question that I never in my life thought I would EVER ask:

Why did that girl ever rap? — Natasha Gorbachev

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