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Esperanza Spalding @ SoFar Sounds/Amnesty International with Shamir and Maitland.

September 22, 2017


Text by Maya Winneg. Images by Abi Raymaker

Esperanza Spalding, Shamir and Maitland shared their talents in a Rittenhouse Square home Wednesday night as a part of the global “Give a Home” concert series to raise money supporting refugees and the efforts of Amnesty International.

SoFar Sounds, an organization that hosts secret house shows in locations around the world, collaborated with Amnesty International to organize 300 shows across 60 countries. In one day, 1000 widely-known, local and refugee artists performed in front of attentive audiences in intimate spaces in solidarity with the 22 million refugees worldwide.

On the third floor of a mansion/dentist office in Rittenhouse Square, around 70 people sat on the carpet awaiting the stylings of Grammy Award-winning artist Esperanza Spalding. Standing at the level of the audience, she performed her set of both jazz covers and original music, including a song from her 77-hour composing endeavor done this past weekend. In a piece she wrote to further the mission of UNESCO, Spalding sang of building an intangible and invincible heritage site of love and that the world must “pass it on with our hands and songs.”

As she entranced the listeners with her rich vocals, her hands knowingly danced along the neck of her bass to fill the room with her neo-soul energy.


Next up, Shamir banged out a dreamy set that deviated from the artist’s other work in disco and hip-house genres. Shamir performed the new song, titled “90s Kids,” an ode to struggling millennials, and “Straight Boy,” a song that explores heterosexual masculinity and its impact on queer people. Shamir’s electric guitar and disarming, buttery voice cultivated a warm stage presence that furthered the room’s serene atmosphere.


To close the show, two members of the local, Philadelphia-based band Maitland mesmerized the room with their crisp harmonies and indie-folk sound. Lead guitarist Josh Hines reflected on how he manifests his frustrations about the world into their music, but as his brother Alex Hines, Maitland’s lead bassist, added, this frustration is often “met with optimism,” which paralleled the nature of the “Give a Home” concert series.


The air of love and warmth shared between the performers and audience in this Rittenhouse home was only one of the hundreds of living rooms that reverberated support for human rights around the globe on Wednesday.


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