Maybe, just maybe, we were looking at this thing all wrong. Suppose it wasn’t a parting of the ways of a group, but rather an opportunity for everyone else to catch up? Hmm.
Is that a possibility? When Floetry was introduced to the national public in 2002, with their commercial debut project, “Floetic,” many people thought that was the beginning. In actuality though, they’ve been putting work in. They had to hone their skills and build the chemistry as artists who people would believe that once they got here, they’d stay here. More importantly, they had to trust and believe in each other enough to hightail it to another country to get to where they felt they needed to be.
The payoff for that work was an album that went gold and spawned a few Grammy nominations (2003 Best Contemporary R&B Album, Best R&B Song and Best Urban/Alternative Performance for the single “Floetic” and 2004 Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for “Say Yes”) and a follow-up disc, 2005’s “Flo’Ology,” that cracked the Billboard 200’s Top 10 chart, peaking at No. 7. For good measure, those projects sandwiched the Floacism “Live” release in 2003.
In 2006, however, it was done. The group was a wrap. As a little time passed, rumors persisted of reconciliation. A brief reincarnated version of the group (featuring the Songstress and Amanda Diva) just wouldn’t do. Finally, in 2010, we got new official material as Marsha Ambrosius (the Songstress), after feeding her fan base with a series of mixtape material and appearances on songs with the likes of Dr. Dre, Nas, the Game, Jamie Foxx and Macy Gray, released her first solo album, “Late Nights & Early Mornings.” Also that year, we got the commercial debut of Natalie “The Floacist” Stewart, who dropped “Floetic Soul” on Shanachie Records.
All told, five successful solo CDs (Ambrosius’ “Late Nights & Early Mornings” and “Friends & Lovers,” and Stewart with “Floetic Soul,” “Floetry Re:Birth” and “Rise of the Phoenix Mermaid”) were released, and much like the groups New Edition, the Wu-Tang Clan and Outkast, the success of its parts would never equal that it shared as a collective. A music home base with time-honored material was forged, and supporters of the artist, although appreciative of their individual efforts, needed them as a collective.
In December 2014, on the soil where it all began, at the Clapham Grand in London, Stewart joined Ambrosius during Ambrosius’ concert and performed. Social media outlets were enthralled with the possibilities that a full-on reunion was on the horizon. In February 2015 came confirmation. The duo was back—sort of. A tour was promised for the spring-summer and the group delivered. Fans across the nation packed venues to bear witness, and Saturday, July 25, was THAT date for the near-capacity crowd in the Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort.
The initial shock of seeing the two together after nearly a decade apart subsided and the reality of HEARING the two together stepped to the forefront. As well it should.
“Thanks for sharing your time with us,” said Stewart in welcoming the audience. “You could have been anywhere, but you chose to be with us. We know the possibility of gathering is church.” With that said, the congregation was edutained for better than 90 minutes. Of course the highlights were the ballads “Say Yes” and “Getting Late,” but the contrast displayed by their brief solo stints were just as telling. Stewart’s set centered on the affirmation-driven selections, “Breathe” and “The Stand,” which gathered the desired call-and-response she beckoned, whereas Ambrosius demonstrated her ability to cuss someone in falsetto to uphold her self-described “classy ratchet” persona with the room-rocking “Hope She Cheats on You (With a Basketball Player)” and the romantic “Your Hands.”
The easiest thing to do for a reunion show is to fly through the set and take the audience’s adulation of the music for granted and bask in the bliss of nostalgia. Thankfully, they took the same route that got them there. They put in work and reciprocated the amorous feelings. They made no promises other than it won’t take nine years for a return, but if this performance is the last we see of them as a group, this is how they should be remembered.
If traveling isn’t an issue, then a trip on 95 South may be warranted for the Summer Spirit Festival featuring Erykah Badu, Anthony Hamilton and Floetry. The show takes place Saturday, Aug. 8, 3 p.m., at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md.
Over and out. Holla next week. Till then, enjoy the nightlife.