Kelela Massey Hall, Toronto ON, June 21
Published Jun 22, 2014How does a singer with just a mixtape and a handful of guest appearances end up playing Massey Hall? Besides lucking into some canny programming by NXNE organizers, Kelela arrived fully formed and brimming with talent. Although she admitted to being humbled by the storied venue, any nervousness was absent from her assured performance. Pulling tracks from last year's Cut 4 Me, the singer, decked out in a white dress, laid to rest doubts about her abilities outside the studio, matching her mixtape note for note while DJ Total Freedom triggered beats and pre-recorded backing vocals behind her.
"Bank Head," her collaboration with producer and Fade to Mind label-mate Kingdom remains her best-known track. A seriously self-aware performer, she admitted that it was regularly the song that woke up an unfamiliar audience and that she was "happy to sing it." With little visual flare, Kelela delivered a strong performance, making the case for herself as an artist to watch both on record and on stage.