On September 8, 2012 the city of Toronto, in support of ONEXONE welcomed R&B legend Lauryn Hill to the Kool Haus for an intimate evening. Sponsored by Rogers Communications and Diesel Canada, special guests included: Kardinal Offishall, Maestro, K’naan, Jully Black, and Shi Wisdom. This event was one of a kind; featuring elevated lounges, dance floor, international DJs, mixologists, and sommeliers.
At first glance, it may have seemed as if you had arrived for a TIFF event, however, that wasn’t the case this time around. Fans, as well as those of higher status made their way to the Kool Haus Saturday evening for what was sure to be a truly legendary event for an extraordinary cause. Camera crews, photographers and interviewers lined the red carpet as individuals arrived, dressed to impress. Upon entering the venue, it was evident that the evening was going to be filled with liveliness as groups of people younger and older, quickly started to fill the floor. Conversing with one another, they patiently waited for the night to officially begin. Being my first time at the Kool Haus, it could easily be said that there was more than enough room with an easily accessible bar, making for a comfortable atmosphere throughout the entire night.
With a live band named “Front Door Magic” consisting of a Keyboardist, Guitarist, Bass Guitarist, and Drummer, Kardinal Offishall took the stage as the audience erupted while loud cheers took over the venue. Performing with a great amount of energy, Kardinal began by performing tracks such as: “Clear” and “Beautiful”.
Shortly after, he was joined on stage by R&B singer/songwriter Jully Black as the Canadian duo performed the classic song “Money Jane”. Jully continued on, as she went ahead and also performed her hit single “Seven Day Fool”. After applause from many, Jully exited back stage as Kardi kept the show going. Being joined on stage by Canadian rapper Maestro, the two interacted with the crowd as they performed “Tide Is High” with Kardinal Offishall asking the audience to take out their cell phone and lighter so they could light up the building for all the kids around the world. Jumping up and down, he also performed “Everyday Rudebwoy” as those in the audience sang along.
It wasn’t long after that poet, rapper, singer and songwriter K’naaan took centre stage. The atmosphere in the building quickly shifted to a more laid back environment as K’naaan performed a brand new song. Accompanied by an acoustic guitar player, he sang his new tune “The Seed” which saw positive feedback as K’naaan himself also received support from the majority of the crowd before making his way backstage.
Emerging one last time, Kardinal was joined by Toronto songstress Shi Wisdom as the two performed their song “Mr. Parker” to the likes of many. Kardinal left the audience with a clear message: to spread good vibes, love, peace, and unity as he said “put God first, family second, and Hip-Hop third”.
Founder of onexone foundation and CEO of Diesel Canada, Joey Adler, emerged on stage as she was welcomed with a warm applause from the crowd. Taking the time to thank those who made the event possible, she stated that even with all the great performances taking place that evening; the main focus was targeted towards the children in which her foundation aims to support. Adler encouraged audience members to donate $5 through their cell phones by texting 4THEKIDS to a specific number which was portrayed on two main screens located either side of the stage. After an interlude from a beat boxer and a set from the DJ, the main act of the night was only moments away.
Making my way from the back of the audience towards the stage, I had the opportunity to stand front row as I now found myself standing next to photographers. As Ms. Hill emerged from back stage, massive cheers echoed through the Kool Haus while fans chanted, “We love you Lauryn”. Illuminated by the chandeliers above her, an elegant Lauryn Hill braced the microphone alongside a supporting cast of three back up singers while the live band remained on stage as well. The energy inside the venue at this time was amazing as smiles could be seen on several faces in the crowd. It was all black everything for Lauryn as she wore a black dress, black stockings and black boots along with gold bracelets on her wrists. Lauryn wasted no time as she started of her set by performing songs such as; “Everything Is Everything”, “Superstar”, Concrete Jungle”, and “Forgive Them Father”.
Her body language was more than extraordinary along with a high level of professionalism as the performers worked together in perfect harmony. It could be seen throughout the show that Lauryn was constantly communicating with the band, ensuring the best sound possible. Leaving the stage momentarily to fix her wardrobe, Ms. Hill jumped right back into things performing more songs from her solo album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” including “Final Hour”, “To Zion”, “Lost Ones”, and “Ex Factor”. The array of songs came at a perfect pace as she switched back and forth from slower to faster songs.
It was now just after midnight, as Lauryn Hill took to the microphone saying “Round 2, Y’all ready for round 2?”. Asking the audience if there were any Fugee fans in the building, cheers from every individual could be heard as she performed songs from the group such as; “How Many Mics”, “FugeeLa”, and classics “Ready Or Not”, and “Killing Me Softly”. By this time Soul vibes could be felt throughout the venue. As the lights dimmed, she sang “Turn Your Lights Down Low”.
Bringing her children on stage, her younger daughter said “Hello” to the crowd, while her son said “greetings Toronto”. Handing the microphone to her son, he showed no fear as he gave us some creative rhymes as we all applauded his performance.
After her children left the stage, Lauryn performed “Could You Be Loved” along with her last song of the night “Doo Wop”. The last song saw participation from both males and females as a great night came to an end. However, before Ms. Hill left the stage she threw her towel she used during the show into the crowd, while also taking the time to autograph what she could. Exiting the stage to a massive applause, Lauryn disappeared backstage as more than satisfied fans made their way outside.
Overall, this was an incredible event that saw several fans come out to support artists, and a great cause at the same time. Other than a few issues regarding some feedback, the quality of music throughout the entire evening was phenomenal, as this was an extraordinary event to be a part of. Knowing that the proceeds went to a great cause only made the night that much more spectacular. Hip-Hop, Soul, and R&B were all in one building that night, as we had the opportunity to witness a legend who has been a part of music history for some time now.