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Valerie Simpson Presents Richard Smallwood and Vision at Kumble Theater


Communications & Marketing,LIU

Soulful melodies and thrilling harmonies filled LIU Brooklyn’s Kumble Theater last week, as multi-award winning gospel sensation Richard Smallwood and Vision captured the hearts of guests at a private event held Wednesday, January 27. The evening was a stellar presentation put on by legendary songwriter, producer and performer Valerie Simpson, who shared, “I wanted to present a spiritually positive uplifting event in the midst of so much negativity.” The concert lived up to that expectation featuring some of the original hits performed by the choir over their twenty year history. Songs such as Let Everything, Thank You and Total Praise drew members of the audience into shouts of praise and rejoicing as they danced, clapped and sang enthusiastically to their own favorites. Both seniors and young folks were completely absorbed by the ensemble’s stylistic vocals, accompanied by the artistry of Vision’s live band. Singer, Songwriter and Composer Richard Smallwood was himself one of three pianists as he skilfully moved between leading and directing his thirteen member vocalists, to offer chords of music which invited the audience to further bask in the spirited atmosphere.

The 90 minute presentation also featured an impromptu, yet powerful duet of Angels by Vision’s Vanessa Williams and powerhouse vocalist Valerie Simpson. The rendition stirred the audience to utterances of thanksgiving while the singers reflected their own gratefulness for protection from “dangers seen and unseen” as penned in the song. An equally memorable highlight of the evening was performance of Same God, a single from Smallwood and Vision’s 2015 album Anthology. Smallwood kept the audience enthralled with this up-tempo praise tune through countless repetition of the hit’s reprise. It could easily be described as the evening’s most energetic performance.

As the audience embraced hit after hit, Smallwood shared briefly on some of the experiences which brought him to write and compose Vision’s songs. Several memories included Howard University, the site at which a number of the veteran’s pieces were inspired, arranged and composed, as he studied vocal performance and piano. The final number of the evening, I Love the Lord is among those Smallwood composed while at Howard. The song’s intimate lyrics and musical backing brought end to an astounding event with guests lifting their hands in adoration, showing why it remains one of the choir’s most beloved songs. 

The inspirational evening drew an audience of iconic fans of both Smallwood and Simpson. Among them were singers - Dionne Warwick, Cissy Houston, Freddie Jackson; actress Phylicia Rashad and many others from all genres of entertainment. One of Valerie Simpson’s special guests for the evening was family friends and neighbors, LIU Trustee, Steven J. Kumble and his wife Angela.  

Written by Kediesha Watkis   

Posted 02/03/2016

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