By Venette L. Simon
Boston University News Service
Now a two-time Grammy Award winner, R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan closed her successful tour on April 10, and she brought her unmatched vocals and immense passion to the House of Blues Boston stage on March 16.
When Sullivan announced her highly anticipated 25-city “The Heaux Tales Tour” in November 2021, fans swarmed social media with tweets and posts about securing tickets. Other artists, like Missy Elliot, expressed their support and pride in Sullivan for making her return to music and touring.
By 5:45 p.m., the lines of people waiting for entry had already stretched halfway down Lansdowne Street. Doors were scheduled to open at 7 p.m., and fans — even those who had been standing in line as early as 4 p.m. — were excitedly gathered in preparation for the upcoming show.
This tour comes directly off of the success of Sullivan’s 2020 EP, “Heaux Tales,” a project which has earned her numerous nominations and awards, including the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Album.
From beginning to end, the eight-song project was dedicated to women, love, and relationships.
Along with the songs were brief interludes — or “tales” — from various women Sullivan knows. Each woman told stories about her love life, mistakes and other situations, in which many listeners found comfort.
“Heaux Tales wins because Sullivan holds the therapies of sisterhood sacred, confident no one can take them away,” writes Clover Hope in a best albums guide published on Pitchfork.
Sullivan’s opening act, Tiana Major9, started the audience off with a set of her more popular songs, like “Collide” from the “Queen and Slim” soundtrack, which Tiana Major9 performed with her smooth, jazz-like vocals, making the concert feel more intimate.
Shortly after Tiana Major9’s captivating performance, the house lights went down. The stage was illuminated with flashing lights, and the instrumentals for “Bodies (Intro),” the opening song on “Heaux Tales,” started to play.
“Boston, make some noise!” Sullivan called out as she made her entrance onto the stage, and the second she started to sing, the crowd enthusiastically sang along with her. The audience was captivated by Sullivan’s instructions, as before the concert she told her fans to learn harmonies to her songs in a tweet.
While the crowd brought the energy and sang along with Sullivan from “Bust Your Windows,” they were quieter and calmer for “In Love With Another Man,” giving Sullivan the chance to serenade the crowd.
“So a lot of this is just about self-love and just loving the hell out of yourself,” said Sullivan right before she sang “Girl Like Me,” off of “Heaux Tales.” “If nobody else does, you gotta love yourself.”
In February, just a few shows after her tour had kicked off, Sullivan announced she tested positive for COVID-19 and was unable to perform for about two weeks. After taking the time to rest and heal, Sullivan was back to touring and performing as strong as she could every night.
“I had to continue this tour for this moment because this project is so important for women, for Black women, so our stories could be told and heard,” said Sullivan as she graciously addressed the crowd. “I’m so glad that you all were feeling [it].”
Sullivan released the “Heaux Tales” deluxe version on Feb. 11 and performed two songs from it — “Roster” and “BPW.” Even though the two are fairly new songs, the crowd sang along with Sullivan, without missing a beat.
Brittani McBride, a senior at the Boston University College of Fine Arts, attended the concert and managed to make her way close to the stage. McBride said that, as a woman, she finds Sullivan’s music relatable and feels it deeply.
“[The concert] gave me chills,” she said. “Such depth and body in her voice that captured my heart.”
The audience was entranced by Sullivan from the moment she sang her first note, to her closing song “Need U Bad.” When Sullivan ended, it was clear that the crowd wished there was more coming, but Sullivan walked off stage, ending the concert experience.
Sullivan won her first-ever Grammy for Best R&B Performance for her song “Pick Up Your Feelings,” and won Best R&B album with “Heaux Tales.”
“But what [this project] ended up being was a safe space for Black women to tell their stories, for us to learn from each other, laugh with each other and not be exploited at the same time and that’s what I’m most grateful for,” Sullivan said in her acceptance speech after her second win. “Shout-out to all Black women who are just living their lives and being beautiful.”