Chester’s Avery*Sunshine set the stage with an arousing opening set of one of the most refreshing three act live performances of contemporary soul music in its unique varieties at the Wilmington Grand Opera House.

Act one was the Avery*Sunshine duo which features her gospel influenced keyboard chops along with that dynamic voice with endless range, crystal clear clarity, and raw emotion. Filling out her sound was her new hubby Dana Johnson who looks like he’s only playing a acoustic guitar, but he’s got some mess with him that creates a percussive beat that gives them a much fuller sound than two musicians are supposed to produce.

Kindred -1-3Following them, out came one of my favorites, Raheem DeVaughn. This was another duo performance with only a DJ on stage to supply the tracks for Raheem to sing, lip synch, and talk through. I’ve always found his persona to be all inclusive. He’s got the voice that fits with the old school soul crooners but creates songs that appeal to both the young and old. He wore a classically tailored suit but it was styled in a relaxed young folk fashion with the accompanying backward baseball cap, sneakers, and bling. He overtly espouses respect for women in his songs, but doesn’t shy away from social issues with songs like ‘Bulletproof’. The guy is full of energy and never fails to deliver on stage.

The headliner was Philly’s ‘Kindred the Family Soul’. Kindred’s 7-piece band was in total contrast to the acoustic Avery*Sunshine’s duo and the electronic Raheem DJ. Their sound totally filled the room with some of the best live music I’ve heard in a long time. (Great to see my-man Jeff Bradshaw on trombone).

Kindred -1-4Unlike the other married couple on the bill, the Kindred husband and wife are a team of vocalist who leave the instruments to the band. Fatin and Aja sing about love, relationships, and other uplifting stuff. They often sing to each other about their love for each other.

Kindred -1-5There were times I just closed my eyes, soaked in the music and lyrics and felt like I was sitting at a Broadway musical. The stories they sing about don’t often get radio play, but they are as talented and encouraging as any group ever. Fatin teased a lady in the front row that they were going to sing their entire 70 song catalog before they get to the song she requested, “Far Away”. They didn’t quite do 70 songs, but it was worth the wait.

Certainly a contrast in performances of the great genre of soul music. A wonderful evening.