The Martha’s Vineyard Summer Madness Festival came to a finale Sunday night with a performance by Lauryn Hill at the Featherstone Center For the Arts in Oak Bluffs. This year’s festival had a “ladies first” theme and Ms. Hill’s show capped off a weekend packed with female talent.
Two time Grammy winner Melanie Fiona got the show going early, dancing across the stage as she sang hits from her two albums. The crowd sat attentively through Ms. Fiona’s set, but when DJ Rampage Global took the stage at 7:45 p.m., everyone collectively jumped to their feet. People crowded the front of the stage, dancing along as the DJ blasted everything from Bob Marley to Pharrell.
Anticipation grew when DJ Rampage Global invited Lauryn Hill’s live band to join him on stage at 8:45 p.m. The band grooved on smooth funk music as the audience beckoned Ms. Hill to the stage. Just before 9 p.m., she obliged the requests.
Ms. Hill joined the band mid-song and she and her three backup singers traded vocal riffs in a musical conversation, while the live band drove the music forward. On Everything is Everything, the microphone soared into fits of feedback, but Ms. Hill’s voice soared higher and built into a wave of sound.
Midway through the set, the stage went dark and the band played soft transition music as Ms. Hill picked up an acoustic guitar. For the next segment of the show, the music slowed down and the audience took their seats again. Ms. Hill remained seated with her guitar through Mr. Intentional, Adam Lives In Theory and Turn Your Lights Down Low, but was up and dancing again for I Only Have Eyes For You.
Just after 10 p.m., after a dramatic performance of Killing Me Softly, the organizers had to end the show to be in compliance with the Oak Bluffs noise ordinance. Ms. Hill seemed reluctant to leave the stage as the audience continued to cheer for one more song.