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The Tucson Urban League sponsored an appearance by Eric Benet at the Fox Theatre as a part of their “An Evening in Black and White” fundraising event on March 7. The evening was a blend of music and an award ceremony.

The mission of the Tucson Urban League is to advance the economic and social prosperity for African Americans and other underserved Tucson residents by creating access to opportunity.

Eric Benet performed a short set of his best-known hit songs. AXS was there to catch the performance and here are the reasons to see Benet live.

1) Benet is a performer who has withstood the test of time

The cool, calm and collected R & B singer has changed his look over the years, but his authenticity in delivering a song has remained steadfast. His 50 plus years have left the singer fit and fine. The four-time Grammy Award nominee still keeps his shows all about the music.

Benet credits his longevity to having complete autonomy with his music and only performing music that made him “fall in love with music all over again.” Quoting Benet, “I feel like I’m just getting started.” This is certainly demonstrated during Benet’s performance.

2) The songwriter has written heaping portions of sultry soul

Benet’s songs like “Femininity,” “Georgy Porgy,” and “Love of My Own” sound as good today as they did 20 years ago much like D’Angelo’s or Michael Jackson’s music.  His songs possess an unadulterated sex appeal.

They take you on a journey that builds the listener to a crescendo and then bring you back to earth. For a complete set list, click here.

3) One of the best falsetto voices in show business

Benet has to be one of the most underrated R & B singers around. The singer demonstrated his falsetto as he moved in and out of his high range effortlessly. He is in a class inhabited by Prince, Eddie Kendricks, Brian McKnight, Robin Thicke, Barry Gibb and Al Green. If you have any doubt, take a listen to “Sometimes I Cry.” His music is smooth.

4) Performed his standard wedding song

Benet spoke of how he was particularly proud of his song “Spend My Life With You.” He knew when he recorded the song that it would be his number one hit record. This song was recorded as a duet with Tamia as Benet felt it needed a female vocal in addition to his vocal during the recording session. However, during this performance, Benet took on both the male and the female parts since Tamia was not present.

‘Spend My Life With You”’ is almost as difficult to sing as the national anthem,  Benet has that vocal arsenal to sing it well. Twenty years after release, the song is still being played and performed at weddings worldwide.

5) Charisma is his modus operandi

Benet hit the stage wearing his trademark jeans, white tee shirt, shades and Fedora. He quickly created an interactive set inviting the fans to sing, dance and participate as the show moved on.  

Humble and humorous, Benet asked the women who were married to raise their hands. He explained that he now knew "who to stay away from" and promised to be the boyfriend of every single woman in the house.

He introduced the song “Chocolate Legs,”  “As I look out into this beautiful, diverse audience tonight, I don’t want anybody left out by the title. The good thing about chocolate is that the Lord made it in many different flavors, white chocolate, dark chocolate, medium chocolate. So, this song is for all the chocolate ladies here tonight.”

Butch Diggs and the Pyramid Project opened the show with a superb jazz set. The band consists of excellent local musicians that include Butch Diggs on saxophone, Kevin Hamilton on keyboards,

Richard Katz on keyboards, Johnny Walker on bass, Carl Cherry on drums, and Phil Davis on guitar. The entire evening of music was proof that R & B still reigns supreme.