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In an age of immediacy, the idea of waiting sounds hopelessly outdated. But that said, there is something to be said about anticipation. Such is the case with Maxwell's new album. Yes, after an extended hiatus, the sexy ambassador of soul has returned with a brand new look and a fresh yet deliciously vintage sound. The same artist who brought us classic songs like "Sumthin' Sumthin'," "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)" and "Lifetime" (not to mention the unforgettably ethereal cover of Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work") is back with a challenging, mature, sensual, courageous and emotionally open album entitled, BLACKsummers'night (Columbia). BLACKsummers'night, the first installment of a trilogy, is a collection well worth the wait.

His fourth studio album and first in eight years, BLACKsummers'night is the sound of an artist taking the commitment to his craft and the conversation with his audience that much further. Needless to say, it is a conversation that's been overdue; but as the soft-spoken, multi-platinum artist sees it, in order to come back it was necessary to step away. "I wanted to return to ‘what was the promise?'" Maxwell offers. "What did my music and creativity speak of to people? For me, coming back to that promise was kind of where my heart was really gravitating towards. I didn't intentionally step away from all of it, but I just wanted my life a little bit, and then be able to make music with that pure experience again."

He might have been out of the spotlight, but Maxwell along with long time collaborator and friend Hod David, had begun crafting BLACKsummers'night several years ago. The album is the first installment of a trilogy entitled BLACKSUMMERS'NIGHT. BLACK is a much darker but soulful compilation, SUMMERS' leans more toward the gospel side and NIGHT is more a cool collection of slow jams. By late 2008, the process of polishing and shaping the album was full on. Though having much of his creative team on board, Maxwell still approached the creative process with extreme caution and the painstaking meticulousness of a true genius. "Every time I'd get in the studio it would be like am I trying to outdo this last record? I just wanted to make a really good record." Of course, what Maxwell's notoriously modest character failed to warn was that what he was creating was more than "good" but rather (like his other projects) a timeless piece of work.

On June 24th Maxwell galvanized an unsuspecting audience at the 2008 BET Awards with a live rendition of Al Green's classic song, "Simply Beautiful." It would be his first live performance in seven years. Without his signature afro or silk mono-chromatic suit, it was hard to tell if this six-foot tall body was merely a mirage or indeed the man that for so many years had left legions of devoted fans wanting more. But after uttering the first gentle lyric ("If I gave you my love...") everyone remembered and so did Maxwell. The unforgettable performance became one of the most talked about in 2008. It left each audience member (regular folk and superstar celebrities alike) rejoicing that unquestionably authentic soul sound that was denied to them for far too long. Overwhelmed and inspired by the ecstatically warm response, Maxwell decided to boldly hit the road, with no album, nor concrete plan to follow. Less than two months later the artist announced the launch of his much speculated 2008 BLACKSUMMERS'NIGHT tour. Maxwell initiated the tour with his first concert at South Africa's Macufe Music Festival. Maxwell sold out 10,000 seats and was given honorary South African citizenship. The show, which aired on "BET's Access Granted," was not only his first concert (as well as on-air interview) in seven years; it was his first show ever in South Africa.

In the U.S., all 144,000 tickets for the tour sold out within minutes of their onsale date. An overwhelming demand for Maxwell caused the original 26-date tour to be extended to 33 dates. He performed in all the major cities including New York; selling out the renowned Radio City Music Hall and uptown New York's 3,000 seat theater, The United Palace. New York Times writer Jon Caramanica asserts, "Maxwell has something that his emulators lack: complexity...some of the most potent moments [at Radio City] came in the pregnant spaces between notes, with Maxwell managing to hold a feeling even with his mouth shut."

For Maxwell the opportunity to get back on stage and receive such an enormous response, especially without an album to support, was revelatory and further inspired him to complete his oft delayed album. "That experience is something for which I am beyond grateful. To be able to take a risk and to have that genuine interest from people is so rare. It actually made making this record even more precious. It was that pure energy. It was like, ‘oh, this is why I do it.' It's because people care about real music and they'll wait for you."

In 1996, a then 23-year old Brooklyn born phenomenon took the music world by storm with his debut, Urban Hang Suite. (He signed to Columbia Records at the tender age of 21, already having composed more than 300 songs before signing on to the major label.) The critically acclaimed CD received a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album and went on to achieve double platinum status. Maxwell's MTV: Unplugged (1997) achieved gold status with his live rendition of "This Woman's Work." He was heralded as the future of soul music and proved his staying power when he followed up with 1998's platinum seller Embrya. In 1999 Maxwell's single, "Fortunate" (off of the LIFE soundtrack) became Billboard magazine's number one hit of the year. Maxwell's third album, Now (2001) debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart; selling 300,000 copies its maiden week and eventually also reaching double platinum status. The album was appropriately described by Entertainment Weekly as "A velvetined gauntlet thrown at the feet of today's bling-bling-obsessed R&B pack."

To hear Maxwell explain it, as much as his fans were waiting for him, he was waiting for them--and in the process of finding himself. "Sometimes I can't believe I do this because you're living your life. Going to the corner store, taking out the garbage and the next thing you know you're on stage at Radio City Music Hall. It's such a humbling thing and you'd think it would make my ego go out of control but I feel humility. Like this is why I need to do this. It's not about your ego. It's about celebrating your opportunity and the blessing to work and the joy you can possibly bring to people. That's how it all resonated with me."


Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 10000 reviews
  • Rating: 5 out of 5

    Maxwell Delivers

    by Steph on 11/28/23Smoothie King Center - New Orleans

    Maxwell always deliver a stellar performance. He doesn’t have an entourages on stage, but his energy fills the atmosphere with so much positivity that reaches out to those far and near. He doesn’t always reach the notes that he is aiming for, but that is what is so endearing. His microphone is always on, and he always gives 110 percent off himself. Kudos! ❤️❤️

  • Rating: 5 out of 5

    Maxwell in New Orleans November 2023

    by Musiclover318 on 11/27/23Smoothie King Center - New Orleans

    Have been trying to see Maxwell for years but life kept getting in the way. Finally got to see him the day after Thanksgiving in New Orleans. He did not disappoint. Show was amazing. He was so smooth. Sounded great!

  • Rating: 5 out of 5

    The show was great

    by Hands on 11/27/23Smoothie King Center - New Orleans

    The show was awesome. Good sound good atmosphere good presentation. Everything was great.

  • Rating: 5 out of 5

    Maxwell shows up and out again!!

    by Chuck on 11/27/23Smoothie King Center - New Orleans

    Awesome concert by Maxwell!! We saw him last year in New Orleans again for the Trilogy tour closing act. Well done young man. Keep doing what you doing and give us some new music soon.

  • Rating: 3 out of 5

    It was okay, but. . .

    by Cyndi on 11/27/23Smoothie King Center - New Orleans

    The show was okay but many of the songs I wanted to hear were passed over. I really wanted "a woman's work".

  • Rating: 5 out of 5

    The show was phenomenal

    by Ronda on 11/27/23Smoothie King Center - New Orleans

    Had a blast per usual!!!looking forward for the next upcoming show.

  • Rating: 5 out of 5


    by Am on 11/27/23Smoothie King Center - New Orleans

    Maxwell was Amazing!! His performance was on point. I love that he grew his hair back.

  • Rating: 5 out of 5

    Maxwell Tour

    by Dee on 11/27/23Smoothie King Center - New Orleans

    Maxwell and Leela James were awesome! The energy and the vibe was great!! Hope they both will be back soon.

  • Rating: 4 out of 5

    Venue fell short

    by Khal on 11/27/23Smoothie King Center - New Orleans

    Had to stand outside in cold til the doors opened 45 minutes late. Sound for Leela James was out of synch. Flimsy, tight seats in movable stadium bleachers.

  • Rating: 5 out of 5

    Money well spent

    by JayBelieveit on 11/27/23Smoothie King Center - New Orleans

    Mike Epps energy was amazing as the host. Leela James had a beautiful well organized set along with her band. Maxwell energy has always been amazing including his band.I was happy with taking the time out to enjoy amazing artist that has been working hard. I pray that God continues to bless everyone. Bayou Classic New Orleans 2023 I must admit Southern Foundation Gala energy was off they needed to be more hype since they hosted the concert just sitting at tables looking cute was not it if you expect people to come out get people excited about supporting the cause the guest that was able to purchase tickets made sure to turn up I just expected more from the Gala