NPR Music is doing it up big for Black History Month with a slate of special programming putting legendary Black artists in the spotlight throughout February. On the schedule are Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts by four such legends in the genres of R&B, jazz, gospel and hip-hop. Kicking off the month-long celebration and holding it down for R&B is the one and only El DeBarge.
El chose to keep it simple for his performance, recording it from his humble home studio with a two-camera set-up. Accompanied only by guitarist Bennett Walker, the casually-dressed singer stood at his keyboards with his eyes closed, opened his mouth to sing and proceeded to impress with his pristine vocals and stunning falsetto.
A member of the ridiculously talented (and embattled) DeBarge family and the group DeBarge, El represented his family well on Tiny Desk. He chose to sing selections from the group’s catalog instead of any of his solo material, and he made the almost 40-year-old material sound brand new.
Digging through DeBarge’s crates, El began his set with their 1982 classic “All This Love” from the album of the same name. The timeless love song was followed by another, “Time Will Reveal” from 1983’s In A Special Way album. El stayed on that particular album for the remainder of his performance, singing a special remix of “A Dream” dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. before closing with “Love Me In A Special Way” and his soaring falsetto that filled the room.
El DeBarge’s appearance on Tiny Desk may have been special for Black History Month, but with his set being so heavy on the love songs, it’s more in tune with and right on time for Valentine’s Day. One thing’s for sure, we’ve fallen in love with El DeBarge all over again. Press play below and do the same.