The immensely talented and enigmatic writer, singer and producer Maxwell, along with the legendary Mary J. Blige, kickoff their highly-anticipated King and Queen of Hearts World Tour this weekend – beginning in Charm City on Saturday before bringing the musical magic to the District’s Verizon Center on Sunday, Nov. 6. The U.S. phase of the tour ends Dec. 14 in Chicago.
And after many years away from the public eye, fans across America appear eager to groove to the sultry “swag master himself,” Maxwell, as he performs some of his award-winning classics as well as songs from his recently released 5th album, “BlackSUMMERS’ night,” many of which have already made their way to the top of the charts.
Music lovers may remember Maxwell’s “Urban Hang Suite” – his debut 1996 album which critics describe as the successful reclaiming of the “utopian spirit of 70s soul” and firmly placed him a path that would eventually earn him a coveted place among other revered R&B/soul pioneers.
On his new tour, Brooklyn-born Maxwell teams up with Mary J. Blige – the first time they’ve ever co-headlined a concert. And so far they’ve been living up to the hype, just completing a 12-show run in various European cities, blazing stages along the way.
Meanwhile, Maxwell’s album, which he released in July as the second installment of his Grammy-winning musical trilogy, has already been talked about as one of the best recordings of 2016. In fact, some critics have used phrases like “exquisite and transcendental” or “his most cohesive effort” to explain the impact his latest work has had on his listeners.
In anticipation of the tour, the soulful singer with the “velvet falsetto” has made strategic stops since June, making surprise appearances in venues large and small, on television and live on stages. He headlined a set at this year’s Essence Festival, also performing on Good Morning America, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The BET Awards, Tavis Smiley and more.
Still, he said it’s an honor to have an entertainer like the incomparable Mary J. Blige on tour with him.
“Mary is the epitome of soul,” he said in a prepared statement. “She embodies all that is woman and speaks for the everyday struggle and triumphs of all women.”
Blige, who has sold over 50 million albums worldwide, won nine Grammy Awards and taken home five American Music Awards, keeps pushing the envelope, recently completing her 14th studio album.
Like Maxwell, she says she has great admiration for her fellow headliner.
“Maxwell’s music is amazingly soulful and calm with a colorful tone that speaks to the hearts of women. His music makes them feel loved and I’m excited to [be] on the road with him.”
Maxwell shared his reflections on his lengthy, self-imposed hiatus from the stage that has now come to an end, much to the delight of his fans.
“[Entertainers who have] been down the road a bit often let the [music] become more about their personal drama,” he said. “I’m not going to disrespect anyone’s hustle, but I’m not interested in being a celebrity. I need that spark that drives the music but within that life I always want to create something that affects people emotionally and spiritually. At the end of the day that’s what enables me to become secondary to the experience of the music.”