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ACL Fest review: Latasha Lee & the Black Ties

Deborah Sengupta

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 4, 2013

Never mind that it was 11:20 a.m. and the better part of Austin was still shaking off sleep, Latasha Lee took the Austin Ventures stage with the clear-headed poise of a woman on a mission: to claim her crown as the self-proclaimed Princess of Austin Soul. And claim it she did. Backed by The Black Ties, an notably diverse eleven-piece ensemble encompassing at least three generations of Austin talent, she stepped onto the stage to an easy reggae groove and with a bright smile and brighter pipes she sang from the bottom of her heart.

In a set marked by both superb musicianship and excellent showmanship she worked her way into the hearts of a crowd that swelled from a few stragglers over the course of her set. Over tightly arranged retro soul sounds, she sang to the downtrodden hopeless romantic, the foolish lover in all of us. She brandished the fire of a diva while simultaneously revealing heartbreaking cracks of vulnerability.

By the end of her set a couple hundred new fans were crowded at the front of the stage eating from her palm.

‘Austin, I’ll never walk away from you,” she declared before dropping into the soon to be local radio staple ‘Walk Away’ and chasing it by another new school doowap classic in the making ‘Left Hand Side.’ As she exited at the end of the latter song that crowd roared with approval. And just when we thought we could love her no more, she returned to the stage and dropped a fantastic dancehall breakdown while her entire backing ensemble quick-stepped in unison.

Austin, your Princess of Soul has arrived.