Don’t really know if during her storied career Fantasia has performed at the Apollo Theater, but it definitely seems she has prepared for that moment for a good portion of her professional career. Culling from her previous stints in New York, that of a featured actress on Broadway (in “The Color Purple” and “After Midnight”), she informed the capacity crowd that the evening’s performance won’t be what they’re accustomed to seeing of her.
“I know y’all are used to me taking my shoes off and getting ugly with it, but there won’t be none of that tonight,” she said at the top of the show. “Tonight, I want to give you theater.” As a motivating factor for the promised demure set, she added, “When you leave here, I want you to say, ‘There’s nothing that heffer can’t do.’”
With the Broadway motif established, the plot of the story was soon unearthed. The succinct synopsis being with the Christmas season as a catalyst, a young girl from a musically inclined family in North Carolina reveals how her childhood memories shaped and molded her into the woman she is today. The fodder for the material was released to the world Oct. 6, 2017, as her sixth studio album, “Christmas After Midnight.” Produced by frequent collaborator Ron Fair, the 12-track project featured holiday renditions of her favorite holiday classics, including “This Christmas,” “Silent Night,” “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” a duet with CeeLo Green.
“I’m so excited for my first Christmas album,” said Fantasia. “My grandmother Addie Collins’ birthday was on Christmas Day. I will never forget how she would put up the prettiest Christmas trees and lights. But more importantly, I’ll never forget the impact she had on me and everyone else around her this time of year. She was a loving woman who helped all her grandchildren understand the true meaning of the holiday, its impact on our spirituality and character, as well as the importance of recognizing the value of family and significant relationships. This album is dedicated to her. So as she would always say, ‘Keep giving the Gift of Giving!’”
She added, “This album is a gift from me to all of those who remember their grandparents or parents putting up Christmas trees and being a blessing into people’s lives. I’d also like to pay homage to the great singers like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles, who stood strong in what they believed in—the music. I hope that it blesses you guys. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”
Those statements were spot on to how the Apollo performance transpired. “Merry Christmas Baby,” “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto,” and her rousing rendition of her grandmother’s favorite song, “Give Love on Christmas Day,” were the holiday highlights and were augmented with her catalog favorites, “Lose to Win Again,” “Collard Greens and Cornbread,” “When I See You” and “Bittersweet,” to bring the story full circle. It was definitely a highlight performance.