The Southern Heritage Classic is billed as a “cultural celebration” and those familiar with it know that means much more than a football game.
The line-up of fan-pleasing events traditionally includes the Classic Concert, with R&B crooner Jeffrey Osborne and singer-songwriter Stephanie Mills the featured performers for the 2021 affair at the Orpheum Theatre in Downtown Memphis.
Held on the opening evening of the four-day celebration, the concert opened with Osborne singing and performing his way through the large crowd. He reached back for “Love Ballard” and other songs from his days with LTD and meshed them with favorites such as “On The Wings Of Love” that he cranked out as a solo artist.
His voice still crisp after 25 years of performing, he had the crowd rocking.
Surveying the crowd, Osborne shared that he was pleasantly surprised to see how many people were wearing masks as part of COVID-19 protocol. He pumped up the need to get vaccinated, acknowledging that he is ready to get back to some sense of normalcy.
Mills, who starred as “Dorothy” during the 1974-79 run of the musical “The Wiz” on Broadway, came through with a sensational performance.
She sang most of her hit songs, including “I Feel Good All Over” and “You Put A Little Rush On Me.”
And, of course, she wowed the crowd with her multi-platinum hit “Home” from “The Wiz.”
It was a great night to kick off the SHC.
PHOTO GALLERY: Warren Roseborough