Jamie Foxx + Fantasia
Allstate Arena; Sat 6
Jamie Foxx has always fancied himself a singer, but like the man he named himself for, Redd Foxx, whenever the comic worked a noncomedic vocal performance into his sitcom it felt more like a star’s indulgence than a showcase for an exceptional vocalist. That said, as Foxx has become a more dynamic actor (and better mimic) he also has learned either to sing pretty well—or at least act like he can sing pretty well. More significantly, as his Hollywood stock soared he was able to draw upon A-list producers and songwriters. So unlike his passable 1994 debut, 2005’s platinum Unpredictable was as good as any R&B CD on the shelves at the time (something costar and fellow actor-singer Eddie Murphy could never boast during his recording days).
Foxx is joined by Fantasia, whose rich tone, exceptional phrasing and melismatic restraint (a genuine rarity these days) allow her to infuse even mediocre material with genuine emotion. The ability to make the contrived material J Records hoists upon American Idols sound solid makes her perhaps the greatest ex-Idol, as Ruben Studdard has struggled to make the clunkers he’s handed sound good and Kelly Clarkson soared only after moving toward more daring material. Giving Foxx a run for his money, Fantasia acted last year in a made-for-TV version of her autobiography (the highest rated movie in Lifetime Network’s history). She also has been asked to act like a tough, rocking ’hood chick on her new album, Fantasia: It’s an odd choice for someone who rose to glory singing Gershwin, but should inject an energy into her performance that’s undeniable.—Jake Austen