Nervous energy pulsated throughout the lofty corridors of B. Smith’s Restaurant at Union Station, a popular eatery known for its sumptuous southern-style food and most recently, the “B. Discovered” singing competition.

Conceptualized by famed restaurateur B. Smith and restaurant general manager Andres Hayes, the face-off provided a weekly platform for 20 singers and one rapper to showcase their talents. For four weeks, the contestants belted out tunes ranging from Prince’s iconic “Purple Rain” to Richard Smallwood’s stirring gospel hit “Total Praise.”

But on April 18, the crème of the crop serenaded several judges and an overflow crowd of supporters with their most competitive selections.

In her signature sultry voice, WKYS 93.9 radio host and event emcee Jeanie “Kitty of the City” Jones read an impressive list of prizes the night’s winner would receive – $1,000; opportunities to perform at B. Smith’s restaurants in the District, New York City and Sag Harbor, N.Y. and showcases at area lounges.

As Jones prepared to read the winner’s name, anxious audience members called out, “Come on!” and “Read it!” Meanwhile, the five contestants – Shaun Mykals, Kimberly “Kima” Aldridge, Amyunique Garner, Gina Rose and Marquita Benton – stood nervously on the stage as photographers swarmed them with flashing lights.

The night’s victor was powerhouse gospel singer Kimberly Aldridge, a D.C. native who sang an a capella rendition of Mary Mary’s “Yesterday.” The singer, who has performed with noted artists such as Kim Burrell and Amel Larrieux, appeared stunned as the room erupted with cheers and applause.

“I’m thankful for the platform … I’m grateful and I thank God for this,” Aldridge told the audience.

The event’s judges praised Aldridge’s performance, calling her a remarkable talent with a multifaceted voice. The judges have included vocal coach Ellisha “Tea Pot” McKinney, musician Marcus Johnson, BRE Magazine publisher Sidney Miller, entertainment blogger Giovanni, Grammy-nominated artists Carolyn Malachi and Christylez Bacon, reality TV star Omarosa and recording artist V. Rich.

After the overwhelming success of B. Discovered, the restaurant’s managers are preparing to launch B. Talented, a competitive venue for local poets.

For more information on B. Discovered, B. Talented and B. Smith’s restaurant, visit bsmith.com.

 

Kristin Gray

AFRO Managing Editor