By Melina Paris, Music Columnist
Jimetta Rose had just released her sophomore album, The Light Bearer, when I went to see her on Aug. 19, at The World Stage in Leimert Park.
It was my first time seeing her perform. She brought a full house of fans that spilled to the outside of the venue. This is often the case at the historic cultural center. The venue hosts some of the best artists in Los Angeles.
Rose is among a group of Angelino artists giving rise to a Los Angeles music renaissance. She has performed numerous times with her counterparts at Los Angeles’ Grand Performances. Most recently she appeared at the venue’s 30th anniversary show, Our Nation Awakens, with Maya Jupiter, Cody ChesnuTT, Barbara Morrison, Cary Brothers, Joey Dosik, Rachel Fannan and Mia Doi Todd.
She also performed and/or collaborated with Miguel Atwood Ferguson, Anderson Paak, The Decoders, Meshell N’Dgeocello, Erykah Badu, Joi Gilliam, Shuggie Otis and Zap Mama.
Beyond these pairings, what is significant about Rose is her presence and what she transmits to her audience: It’s real. The vocalist is about love and spiritual guidance.
A high gloss, black mannequin stood perched on a stage table. White floral vines adorned the figure. Even her head was made of flora, topped with a wide silver ring. Candles and white flowers were placed by her feet.
She came out wearing a crown of white flowers accompanied by her band made up of keys, bass, violin and drums. It became clear that Rose’s intentions were to set the tone for a creative, loving and reciprocal evening.
Her music combines soul and jazz, with a decent dose of hip-hop. She also throws down verses. In fact, she had a chap book of her poetry available, which she shared. She embodies the confidence of a strong woman and the bubbliness of a young girl. Her most powerful message was to encourage those who are struggling.
“No matter the challenge, I keep saying, ‘yeah,’” she affectionately said between her numbers.“This is a village. Feel the authenticity in the room and build culture.”
Using two mics at once, her voice soothed the room as she opened with Welcome to the World. Many of her lyrics are about authenticity, connectivity and love. But her gift, besides her voice, is in imparting her wisdom.
Skyscrapers was among the songs she introduced. Rose said she wrote the funky number while walking down the street.As she sang, Rose passed out pink roses to her audience.
“It might seem like it’s about buildings, but it’s about equality,” she said. “We all deserve to be here. We’re all reaching for the sky, like the skyscrapers.”
“It’s not a one way thing, this is a mirror and I hope you can see yourself,” she said.
Her last number was one she wrote while Bush was in office. She was in Leimert Park and said there was no train yet, referring to the Crenshaw LAX line that now travels through the area. She was thinking about the condition of things and events and wrote a song to the president titled, America.
In true hip hop fashion, Rose belted out dynamic lyrics with intense delivery on this grooving song with a laid back, neo-soul vibe. The contrast of it was amazing. She rocked the room, garnering a standing ovation.
America’s final line was:
“What are we fighting for if we’re not fighting for love?”