Mix a healthy dose of ’90s R&B nostalgia with a pinch of the genre’s re-discovered (reality) stars, add in Fantasia Barrino’s birthday and truss it all in white and you’ve got “30 and Flirty. A Diamond & White Affair” Sunday at the Howard Theatre. “30 and Flirty” was also a gathering place for all the “stars” whose invitations to the BET Awards got lost in the mail–a decade ago.
Barrino, whose actual birthday was June 30, celebrated the big 3-0 with just under 1,000 camera-phone wielding fans dressed in every imaginable interpretation of “all white” and a few famous friends. It was a night of acts whose songs were in heavy rotation at Winter Formal ’99.
Remember 112? One-fourth of the Bad Boy boy band showed up. Lil’ Mo? The “R&B Divas: LA” star sang her 2001 hit “Superwoman Pt. II.” Her fellow reality franchise-mate, Keke Wyatt, who stars on “R&B Divas: Atlanta,” was also there. Even Tweet, the soul singer whose decades-old stage name is now a phenomenon, made a cameo.
Dressed ice-skater-chic in a white and silver sequinned number with high slits and a fringed hem, Fantasia, who didn’t grace the stage until two hours into the show, took her shoes off almost immediately. She cycled through her four-album catalog with hits like “Without Me” and “When I See You” before closing out with “Lose to Win,” an autobiographical song for the singer whose public image has taken some punches. She’s had all kinds of troubles–financial, relationship, career–but the nostalgia theme made sense. A decade ago she won season three of “American Idol,” the starting bell of a race that has had plenty of stops and starts. Maybe kicking off those heels helped.
After a cake was presented and glasses were raised, Barrino, who was last seen starring in Broadway’s “After Midnight” opposite Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight, informed the crowd that the “shots” were on her.
“Ladies if your shoes hurt,” said Barrino just before the start of the after party. “Take ‘em off.”
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