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Working in Harmony

My next adventure at the Rodeo was covering Fifth Harmony’s debut. The quintet was actually down to four following the departure of former member Camila Cabello.

I was familiar with their following but didn’t understand how huge their fanbase was until I saw the fans (mostly pre-teen to teenagers) with their parents. I knew their two biggest hits, Work From Home and Worth It (courtesy of Hershey’s – and I have to admit, I’ve definitely wanted to dance around eating chocolate after that commercial). Outside of their two most popular songs, I didn’t know what to expect. But it was fun to experience the homecoming for two of the members, Normani Kordei (from Pearland) and Ally Brooke (from San Antonio – so technically, more of a Texas homecoming). Kordei is currently on Dancing with the Stars and the group managed to work that into the show, too.

Another member, Dinah Jane, really soaked up her rodeo experience and hopped on a horse. Fans with a keen eye rushed over to the area by the stage and caught a glimpse of that moment before the show.

 

See what other antics Fifth Harmony was up to here or check it out below.

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More than 64,000 fans showed up to see Fifth Harmony make their RodeoHouston debut Friday night at NRG Stadium, and the group told their “Harmonizers” early and often just how much it meant to see them there.

“I want to thank you guys so much for your continuous love and support from the beginning,” member Normani Kordei said. “I mean, there were five girls with a dream.”

Kordei was referencing the number of people in the group before former member Camila Cabello exited last December, making Fifth Harmony a quartet. But Kordei’s current bandmates, Ally Brooke Hernandez, Dinah Jane Hansen, and Lauren Jauregui, didn’t let her linger on that long as they surrounded her on stage to make an announcement that their fans probably already knew: Kordei is competing on the 24th season of Dancing with the Stars.

What “Harmonizers” likely didn’t expect to see was Kordei’s DWTS partner, Valentin Chmerkovskiy, join them on the stage. He won the Mirrorball trophy with gymnast Laurie Hernandez last season, so we’ll see if he can make it two in a row with Kordei when the new season premieres Monday night (March 20) on ABC 13.

Chmerkovskiy posted a video on Twitter twerking with Kordei’s grandmother backstage at the Rodeo and it appears the Fifth Harmony member learned some of her dance skills from granny.

But before going to the ballroom, Kordei had some unfinished business at the Rodeo, even as her bandmates wished her well on the competition.

“We knew from the day that we met you how phenomenal a talent you are, especially an incredible dancer,” Alley Brooke Hernandez gushed. “We can’t wait to see you on that stage doing outstanding and killing it just like you do out here with us.”

Memories of Selena

To kick things off, Fifth Harmony seemed to throw it back to the legends. Queen’s “We Will Rock You” blared through the stadium as soon as the lights went down and after close to a minute of hearing Freddie Mercury, Fifth Harmony rolled in on a horse-drawn carriage. It reminded me of Selena’s entrance to her RodeoHouston concert at the Astrodome in 1995.

But after that, Fifth Harmony kept the hour-long show focused on their music, performing songs including “That’s My Girl,” “Miss Movin’ On,” “Sledgehammer,” “Boss,” and “All In My Head (Flex).”

Backed up by an all-female band, Fifth Harmony took a timeout from dancing to get personal on “Brave, Honest, Beautiful,” written by Meghan Trainor, who is also featured on the song.   “I want you to always feel loved, to always feel important because you are, and right now I want you to repeat after me: I am brave, I am honest, I am so beautiful,” member Dinah Jane Hansen said.

Fifth Harmony saved their biggest hits for last, cueing “Worth It” and then dropping an obvious hint about what was coming next. “Our Harmonizers have been ‘working with us.’ We actually have 9 awards because of them,” Hansen said with a smile.

“Work From Home” was the closing song, and no pun intended, but it has worked for the group well. It’s been certified quadruple platinum. It also got the crowd on their feet.

Homecoming for two members

Fifth Harmony’s first performance at the Rodeo was a homecoming of sorts for two members of the group. Hernandez is a Texas native, hailing from San Antonio, and Kordei lives in Houston.

Fifth Harmony wrapped up on the same message they began on: gratitude to be in front of fans, especially in the Lone Star State.

“I’m so blessed to be here. It’s because of you guys we get to go up here on this stage and do exactly what we love to do,” Kordei said. “I’m so grateful and I wouldn’t choose any other place to represent.”

And “Harmonizers” will likely be watching to see how far Kordei makes it on DWTS.

How soon Fifth Harmony will be back in H-town remains to be seen. Their 7/27 tour starts March 25 in Asia.

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Set List:
That’s My Girl
Miss Movin’ On
Sledgehammer
Reflection
This Is How We Roll
Scared of Happy
Write On Me
No Way
Big Bad Wolf
Boss
Not That Kinda Girl
All In My Head (Flex)
Brave Honest Beautiful
Gonna Get Better
Worth It
Work from Home

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Alicia Keys Returns to the Rodeo

After a busy last couple of months, I’m doing some much-needed updates to my website. I’m starting with the performances I had the opportunity to cover at this year’s Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

The first show I went to was Alicia Keys. This was her first time back at the Rodeo since 2005 and judging by all the fans singing every word, she was definitely missed. She created a special, intimate moment when she asked everyone to get out their cell phones and light up the stadium.

You can read my full review here on CultureMap, or if you’re nice and cozy on my site, check out the full recap below!

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The power of Alicia Keys could be felt the moment she stepped onto the stage at NRG Stadium. Keys hasn’t performed at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo since 2005 and judging by the attendance of 73,660 at this year’s show, she was sorely missed.

Clad in black leather from head to toe, she owned every song as the headliner on Black Heritage Day, starting with the opening number “Karma.”

Keys had the audience moving to a medley of hits including “28 Thousand Days” and “Unbreakable” to the more recent “Pawn It All” and “Blended Family (What You Do For Love)” from her sixth studio album, Here.

I already knew Keys was talented but hearing her live for the first time reminded me of what I like about her as an artist. She brings raw emotion to every word, and I never realized that more than listening to her live on the piano. Each note flowed beautifully into the other as she made an atmosphere that could potentially feel isolated because of the rotating stage seem like she was playing a show for a small circle of friends.

“We’re having a really intimate basement party tonight. And I feel like, if we were in my basement right now, I would want to play a song that sounded like this,” Keys said as she led into “You Don’t Know My Name.”

Keys weaved upbeat songs into the mix, but let’s face it, fans who are familiar with her know, she’s good at getting into your soul on those ballads.  “If you’re with me tonight, and you’re here for love, I was wondering if you could help me illuminate the sky with your phones,” Keys said. “Put a light in the air because life is precious.”

The stadium instantly glowed and that’s when she started playing “Like You’ll Never See Me Again.” She took her time with it and from the cheering, it sounded like the crowd appreciated the chance to hit those high notes with her. You know those times when you’re really into a song and you have to hold your ear and raise your hand in the air just to reach the note? It was kind of like that.

She followed up with “If I Ain’t Got You” and later, the song that first put her on the map, “Fallin.’”

Keys turned up the energy – and the heat – with one specific observation about the Bayou City. “That’s what I like about Houston. It’s all warm and toasty, kind of sweaty and sticky,” Keys said playfully, using that as a springboard to dive into the tropical and Latin-beat influenced “In Common.”

“Let’s dance. I want everybody to just dance with me. Be free. Let it go,” Keys added with a smile.

Indeed, every move she made reflected the joy that comes from someone who loves what they do. That passion was fed right back to her from the audience as Keys launched into “Girl on Fire” and “No One,” two songs that I even heard people in the packed Press Box belting out.

Keys also worked in “The Gospel,” “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart,” and “Work on It” before ending on “Empire State of Mind,” giving a nod to Houston where she would normally pay homage to her own hometown, New York City.

Right before Keys left the stage, she had one final thing to say. “I want to thank you for your love. I want to thank you for welcoming me here to your beautiful town.”

And if a full stadium is any indication, fans were happy to have her back.

Set List:
Karma
The Gospel
28 Thousand Days
You Don’t Know My Name
Unbreakable
Pawn It All
Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart
Like You’ll Never See Me Again
If I Ain’t Got You
Work on It
Fallin’
Blended Family (What You Do For Love)
In Common
Girl on Fire
No One
Empire State of Mind