Growl power; Reese reaches; Hold holds 

  • TWEEN ANGELS: Cheetahs.

Cheetah Girls
Alltel Arena
Dec. 2

While they will never be confused with the Fab Four, the Thrilling Three known as the Cheetah Girls hit town Saturday for a short but spirited display of moves and music that left their tween-age fans screaming for more.

The Disney darlings, with two movies and two top-selling albums already to their credit, are fun to watch on stage. The modern-day Mod Squad, minus their most famous member, Raven-Symoné, showed off some flashy yet wholesome dance steps over the course of their one-hour set. Singing along to pre-recorded tracks, the trio and their four male backup dancers put on a choreographed demonstration of what the girls — Adrienne Bailon, Sabrina Bryan and Kiely Williams — called “growl power,” their version of pubescent potency.

The primarily young, female crowd of 15,433 waved their glow sticks and sang along as the Cheetahs, in their inimitable “Cheetah-licious” style, bounced through Radio Disney staples like “Cinderella,” “Together We Can” and “Shake a Tailfeather.” Bryan stood out during a Latin-flavored “Dance With Me,” sharing the spotlight with one of her dancers in a number that’s sure to earn her a spot on an upcoming “Dancing With the Stars.” Despite the fact that their act included three time-consuming costume changes, by the time they wrapped up “Amigas Cheetahs” amid a sea of confetti, the threesome had the crazed crowd eating out of their paws.

Everlife, the opening act, is fronted by three sisters — Amber, Sarah and Julia — whose sound brought to mind a more virtuous Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. It’s no coincidence that they covered “Real Wild Child,” recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis, Iggy Pop and, most recently, Joan Jett. Their guitar-driven, clean-cut approach to rock earned thunderous applause, particularly after an a cappella version of “White Christmas.” Let’s see Joan Jett pull that off.

— Tim Taylor


Della Reese, ‘In the Spirit’
Robinson Center Music Hall
Dec. 1

Legendary vocalist and actress Della Reese touched and inspired more than 1,000 people at Robinson Center last Friday with her sensational voice. Reese performed in the show “In the Spirit,” presented by Philander Smith College and One Special Angel. The evening of song and praise also was in recognition of World AIDS Day and the holiday season.

Reese’s humorous, delightful and pleasant personality dazzled the audience. Throughout her performance she talked openly about her life growing up in Detroit, touring with Mahalia Jackson at age 13, starting the gospel group the Mediation Singers, singing on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and being the first black woman to have a syndicated show, “The Della Reese Show.” Reese also talked about her TV and movie starring roles.

Accompanied by music director T.J. Campbell on piano and her band, Reese acknowledged God for his guidance, wisdom and understanding in the beautiful opener “An Understanding Heart.” With Lawrence Hamilton directing a combined choir (the Philander Smith Collegiate and Alumni choirs, Jackson T. Stephens Episcopal Collegiate School Concert Choir, Horace Mann Middle School Ensemble Singers, and the West Memphis High School Choirs and an orchestra of regional musicians), Reese uplifted the audience with “Do You Really Know Him.”

Campbell blended his soothing and mellow piano playing with Reese’s dynamic voice on “I’ve Been Touched by an Angel,” which he and Reese co-wrote for her TV show. Reese then poured out her heart and soul in “God Is So Wonderful.” She dedicated her last song, “Take Your Burdens to the Lord in Prayer,” sung along with Hamilton and the choirs, to people suffering with HIV/AIDS. “We got to do everything we can to cure this [dreadful] disease,” she said.



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