Janelle Monáe and Trombone Shorty definitely put their own spin on NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans.
Although Pharrell Williams was the billed headliner for the NBA All-Star Game Entertainment Series, the show also featured Monáe and the famed Tremé trombonist along with the legendary 70s funk band Earth Wind & Fire, Dr. John, and Gary Clark Jr.
According to Billboard, the night’s big performance “synthesized the vibrant musical culture” of the Big Easy. Monáe’s “The Electric Lady” and EWF’s “Shining Star” were among the various songs rendered during the live performance in the New Orleans Arena.
While the night was definitely one to remember, it was also history in the making for the Electric Lady singer and the 28-year-old musician. The two actually spoke with the publication just hours before the halftime show to share their sentiments of the highly anticipated performance.
“It’s been a great process, and… I’m blessed to be a representative for my city,” he said. Shorty, who is considered the city’s most highly publicized brass musician, actually served as an ambassador for the NBA All-Star halftime event.
— Trombone Shorty (@Tromboneshorty) February 5, 2014
The publication also reports that Shorty personally contacted a number of artists about collaborating with him and his band Orleans Avenue for the performance. “I was like, ‘This would be great, but I think it should be bigger,'” he explained. “I’m in my city, and I could have done something by myself, but I was like, ‘No, we need some other people with us.'”
Shorty also revealed that Monáe was actually one of the first artists he contacted. She was elated to be apart of the collaborative effort. “I’m really great friends with Trombone Shorty, who’s like the king of New Orleans in terms of live music,” says Monáe. “He played on [my song] ‘The Electric Lady,’ and we just thought it was fitting. He was like, ‘There are no other females performing — I want it to be you.”
He went on to reveal the gratuitous effort made by member of EWF just to be a part of the halftime show. The group was actually scheduled to perform in Miami on Saturday. However, after receiving a call from Shorty weeks prior to the big event, the group made preparations to take an early plane out to New Orleans on Sunday just to make both gigs.
“They were actually going to use ‘Shining Star’ in the piece that they were doing,” said EWF’s Verdine White, “and an idea came to them to reach out to them and see if we could do it live.”
— Trombone Shorty (@Tromboneshorty) February 17, 2014
“We love music, we love funk, we love soul, we love to jam,” says Monáe. “We didn’t really even have to rehearse [the performance] as many times as we did. Everybody’s fans of each other’s music.”
The performance was definitely a reflection of the musical camaraderie. “That’s what our focus is — to have a big party,” Shorty said, “the way we do here in the Big Easy.”
Image via Janelle Monáe, Facebook