Janet Jackson performs alongside YOLA at sold-out concert in Los Angeles on tour stop with Ludacris

June 11, 2023  -LOS ANGELES (AP) — Janet Jackson inserted some youthful spirit into her normally mature concert during a Saturday night tour stop in Los Angeles.

In a show filled with nostalgic hits, Jackson took a moment to perform her 1993 ballad “ Again ” alongside the LA Phil’s Youth Orchestra Los Angeles at the Hollywood Bowl. Before the 16-member ensemble’s performance with the pop icon, the five-time Grammy winner had a brief conversation with an 11-year-old percussionist who has only been a part of the orchestra for a year.

“Tonight is very special to me because we’re here to support LA Phil,” said Jackson in front of a sold-out crowd, which collectively rose to its feet to applaud the singer. She paid homage to the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the YOLA program that serves around 1,700 young musicians across five sites with free instruments, intensive music instruction, academic support and leadership training.

Last year, YOLA accompanied gospel duo Mary Mary to perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing” at the Super Bowl.

Jackson hugged the young percussionist then asked how she became aware of the program.

“My mom probably found YOLA on Instagram or social media, and she asked me if I was interested in a music program and I said ‘Sure, I’ll try it,’” the percussionist said. After their chat in front of thousands of concertgoers, Jackson told her “Let’s do something a little special.”

It was indeed.

Many in the audience pulled out their phones as Jackson sang alongside the orchestra – conducted by Thomas Wilkins – played the melody of “Again” from her fifth studio album “Janet.” The ballad also earned an Oscar nomination through the 1993 film “Poetic Justice.”

After Jackson’s performance with YOLA, the singer turned back to her more mature content with “Any Time, Any Place” before she segued into “I Get Lonely.” During her hour-plus long set, she put on an impressive show performing a plethora of her other hits including “That’s the Way Love Goes,” “Nasty,” “Control” and “Scream,” a song she recorded with her late brother, Michael Jackson.

Jackson had several notable names in attendance including “Fast X” stars Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster along with actors Larenz Tate and Lil Rel Howery.

Rodriguez and Brewster showed support to their cast mate Ludacris who performed as a guest ahead of Jackson. During the rapper’s 35-minute set, Tate danced in the aisle as other attendees rose to their feet and recited the lyrics to his songs from “What’s Your Fantasy,” “Area Codes” and “Welcome to Atlanta.”

After his performance, Ludacris joined the audience for a brief chat with his “Fast X” crew and Howery separately at their box seats during the beginning stages of Jackson’s show.

In all, it was an eventful night for Jackson who closed out her concert with “Rhythm Nation” – a Grammy-winning song from 1989 that drew a slew of fireworks at the venue. Her tour kicked off in April and will finish in Seattle on June 21.

Jackson’s show opened the Hollywood Bowl’s summer concerts from June and September that’ll include performances by the Beach Boys, Gladys Knight, Jill Scott, Maxwell and Quincy Jones’ 90th birthday tribute.

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