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Jazmine Sullivan Brought Her Black Girl Magic to Charlotte

Take a heaux to church

Back in time, post pandemic social scene, Optimist Hall, Waffle House
Aerin Spruill

I’ve never been much of a planner when it comes to going to shows. But when I found out Jazmine Sullivan, now two-time Grammy-winning, boss-ass, vulnerable-ass, “heaux”-supporting, R&B songbird-ass was coming to the Queen City, I sent the “Can I come through with a plus one?” text two months in advance with a quickness. 

When Jazmine Sullivan’s album Heaux Tales came out in January 2021, whew chile, she had Black women in shambles! From the heaux-shamed to the heaux-proud, that was one of those albums that had you in a chokehold because it ripped out every emotion we as Black women have ever felt about sexual agency, relationships, and controversial rendezvous and put them into a 14-track love note. In other words, she was “singing our lives with her words,” Fugees style. 

(Sidenote PSA: The fellas were in there, too! This isn’t an attempt to comment on gender norms, condemn behavior, or exclude relationship experiences, just a commentary based on my connection to the album.)

I love the boyfriend, but if you know Heaux Tales then I don’t need to explain to you why he wouldn’t be my plus one, or why he wouldn’t quite understand the depth to which I would be (and had already been) belting out, “I ain’t got the room for extra baggage. Don’t forget to come and pick up your feelings. Don’t leave no pieces!” 

Or let’s not forget the extra strength I would practice mustering up in the bathroom mirror if ever I were cheated on again and needed to “bust the windows out your car!” 

That sacred space was reserved for one of my best friends from college, who for almost 14 years has been my biggest supporter, ride-or-die, and confidante. Our shared experience of navigating toxic relationships and “not shit” mentalities throughout our time together has proven to offer fertile ground for bringing the meaning of “doing hoodrat things with my friends” to life — with a splash of therapy and growth.

And if that sounds contradictory to you, dear reader, Heaux Tales ain’t for you. 

A car wreck on Friday, a long day of drinking, and an epic Sunday hangover later, you would think these heauxs were going to be tucking tail and looking for an excuse to end up at Bedside Baptist (read: stay in for the night). 

But on Sunday evening, I was back at The Fillmore like I never left. We walked through the doors and I saw something I personally haven’t seen at the venue in a really long time: a room packed with Black folk, honey! I turned to my bestie and said, “Ooh our cousins are here in full effect!”

In a world that tries its hardest to tear us apart and create systems of division both internally and externally, there’s nothing more soul-tying than collective rage and trauma coupled with music to show how deeply connected we truly are. 

As the lights dimmed and the performance began, I started to get in my feels as I watched the crowd full of people who looked like me start to bob their heads and move to the beat in unison. The words to every song were verbatim, tumbling confidently out of so many mouths regardless of pitch while pointed fingers were tapping in the air at every word.

The “you better preach preacher” popcorn arm extensions and foot-stomping were reminiscent of those seen while listening to a good ol’ Southern Baptist church message.

And finally, the moments of recognition and acknowledgment between two strangers locking eyes with one another while singing a lyric that hit so hard, then busting out laughing immediately after, followed by dap, clasped hands or hugs because, at that moment, they knew they understood one another to their cores. 

In the aftermath of the Black girl magic that was the March 13 show, the icing on the cake was watching Jazmine Sullivan receive two Grammy Awards on April 3.

For me, these awards don’t just symbolize her sheer talent, they solidify the fact that the shared, resounding feeling and reception (felt strongly in my social circles) provoked by the album wasn’t imaginary, it was legit.

“[Heaux Tales ended up being] a safe space for Black women to tell their stories,” Jazmine Sullivan said in her Grammy acceptance speech for Best R&B Album. “For us to learn from each other, laugh with each other, and not be exploited … so shout out to all Black women who are just living their lives and being beautiful.”

Those were the exact vibes of my night at The Fillmore. 

So if you were wondering, yes, there were actual tears shed at this blessed communion facilitated by Minister Sullivan. Can I get an AMEN!?

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