top of page

Mahalia’s Sold-Out Performance at Ophelia’s in Denver was a Fun-Loving, Soulful Exhibition of her Immense Range

Evan Dale // March 8, 2024

Ggre Bussie - Old Friends 9x7.jpg

Last time Mahalia was supposed to play in Denver, her show was canceled. On the stage this time in 2024, at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox – an intimate, 2-story venue that is one part retro-reminiscent club, and another part brothel-chic kitchen – the Soulstress wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of performing for a city that hasn’t yet had the opportunity to see her live.

“You know what’s so funny, is that a couple of nights ago, we were in Phoenix, and I was getting sick, and I said, ‘Listen – Denver, yeah? We need to be in this fucking room.’ But, luckily, I drank a fair bit of wine last night and I think I made myself better.”

Easy fix.

The UK songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist has been a steadfast cornerstone of a global Neo-Soul and R&B renaissance that certainly owes a weighty part of its orbit to the pull of a London-centric hotbed of young artists that - like Mahalia (although she’s from Leicester) - have emerged and, in the process, garnered tremendous following and influence over the course of the last half-decade in particular. And for good reason.

Mahalia has one of those voices that’s hard to compare to any artist that doesn’t already have an historically important nomenclature. A rare bit of timeless, jazz-born signature in her voice weaves itself through every track, regardless of the stylistic direction that track may take. You see, Mahalia is an artist of incredible range. She floats effortlessly between Neo-Soul, and R&B, of course, but also across hip-hop, afrobeats, and pop, while her uniquely jazz club reminiscent register tethers her many stylistic reaches akin and makes them all boil over with her one-of-a-kind stamp. Where she’s made the biggest impression in her soulful sweet spot, her collaborations with UK rappers like Kojey Radical and Jay Prince; with West African Cultural Renaissance royalty like Burna Boy; with fellow soulstresses like Ella Mai, have likewise made her a sought-after name across a mosaic of other soundscapes.

Naturally, her performance reflects that breadth. After a dauntingly emotive opening from soulful Québécois newcomer, Alicia Creti, who – while seated at a bright red keyboard, and filling the room with her powerful voice – handily maneuvered her way top to bottom through her new EP, Self/Less, it’s Mahalia’s turn to spur emotion in the two-story audience at the sold-out Ophelia’s.

Clearly lighthearted and immensely sociable between songs, conversating with fans, and monologuing freely, Mahalia explores her deep canon sans restraint, powerfully going from track to track, not only from her most recent album, IRL – for which her tour is also named – but equally across the entirety of her catalogue to this point. For an audience that was robbed of her concert last time, that rangy selection of songs feels particularly thoughtful. And for fans of Mahalia, who have seen her grow and expand to defy style and epoch into one of the more unique names, not only as a part of the UK-centric Neo-Soul movement, but across modern music at large – where the abilities to both transcend genre, and to connect with fans, are paramount to an artist’s reach – the range of her performance feels reflective.

Mahalia is continuing her IRL Tour across the US through the rest of the month, so check the calendar and get tickets.

bottom of page