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Eli Paperboy Reed

vs The Harlem Gospel Travelers

Friday, January 19, 2024 | 8pm

Jo Long Theatre | $36

Eli Paperboy Reed and Harlem Gospel Travelers have been working together for close to a decade, starting when the younger Travelers were students of Reed’s foundation in Harlem. Reed’s soulful style may have inspired the Travelers at first, but now, in this winner-take-all matchup, audiences will find out if the students can beat the teacher at his own game! Reed’s combination of powerful soulful vocals, heart-stopping falsetto and strong pop sensibility as a songwriter merge in perfect harmony with the Harlem Gospel Travelers, who draw deeply on the gospel quartet tradition of the ’50s and ’60s, but with a distinctly modern edge.

The Travelers are young guns and still on their way up, coming off their critically acclaimed, award-winning album Look Up!. Reed, with eight albums under his belt, most recently the funky Merle Haggard tribute, Down Every Road is the elder statesman here. Don’t let his age fool you, though, as an entertainer he’s still at the top of his game.

Both Reed and The Travelers will perform back-to-back sets, culminating in a joint, spirit-shaking, roof-raising encore.

An epic soulful sing-off for the ages!

On record as on stage, he frequently lets loose with a roar that feels like it’s tearing itself from his vocal cords, as though he couldn’t muffle it if he tried.

– Rachel Horn (NPR)