On Sunday, December 10, 2017, Stokley Williams, the Grammy-nominated vocalist, songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist best known as the lead singer/drummer for the R&B group Mint Condition, kicked off his Sonic Healer Tour at the Ordway Concert Hall in St. Paul.
Williams first captivated the audience with a variety of his original new music. Throughout his performance, he gave the hometown fans a smorgasbord of musical genres, dance moves, prowess with musical instruments, and knowledge and love for music.
Williams took the audience on a musical journey around the world and back; he went from Westside St. Paul by performing Cool, a cover of Morris Day & The Time’s classic, as well as a Prince cover, and sprinkled in a few Mint Condition songs.
He then jumped on the drums to offer sounds of the Caribbean and West Africa that led him back home again for the Blues song I’m a Man, written by Muddy Waters.
Williams showed his vocal range by contorting his voice up and down the scale ss he did some scatting during a jazzy tune. He left the microphone to pick up the rhythm guitar, then the drums and later the harmonica.
Williams went from uptempo to slow jams and back to uptempo and moved with ease from new school to old school singing Earth Wind & Fires’ Love’s Holiday. Williams even showed his acting skills with a brief musical skit that the audience loved, as well. He made sure to include non-stop dance moves and showmanship.
MSR spoke with Walter “Q-Bear” Banks from KMOJ radio station in Minneapolis about his impression of Williams’ performance. “Somebody better put the world on notice about Stokely! This was the greatest show anywhere on earth period — and you can quote me!” Banks continued by saying that Williams not only covered a variety of musical genres from the last five or six decades and showed off his instrumental skills, but this was more than a musical performance, it was about Stokely’s passion and knowledge of music and most of all, it was all about love.
Evidence of that was made clear with the thunderous chants of “Stokely! Stokely! Stokely!” from the sold-out crowd.
Williams’ show began at 7:30 pm and ended at 10 pm. That’s right — the concert was over two hours long, but most impressive about every minute is that the audience was kept wanting more. In fact, at the end of the show, which was followed by loud cheering and a standing ovation, Williams had to come back on stage for two encores.
Williams is scheduled to perform solo in the free concert series during Super Bowl 52 on Nicollet Mall; his group Mint Condition is slated to perform, as well. His latest solo CD is entitled Introducing Stokely.
In the entertainment business, when one becomes famous for doing something or for just being great at what they do, sometimes they are described by one name only — names like Prince or Denzel and the list goes on. Now via the Sonic Healer Tour, the world will be introduced to Stokely!
James L. Stroud, Jr. welcomes reader responses to email@example.com
James L. Stroud Jr. is a contributing writer and photographer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.