By Nicole Itkin

Rhonda Ross, everyone!

Ross centers the evening around the concept of thought: thought, she says, lives in the space between any given event and how you feel about it. In that vein, she sings her first song twice, “All I Want” followed by “All I Want.” She sings it once after making her entrance down the stairs, and then again after explaining how she used to hate that song because of what it represented—before realizing it wasn’t the song’s fault, but her thoughts around the song. Indeed, the second go-around changes the feeling of the song entirely.

And that’s the message of the evening—it’s not what happens, but what (and how) you think about what happens that really matters. As she says, mindset is magical; it can make heaven into hell or hell into heaven.  She goes on to elaborate that she thinks of thoughts in two dimensions: ASTs or automatic shitty thoughts and INTs or Intentionally Nourishing Thoughts. It’s not easy, but you can make the former into the latter, if you choose to. This is what rests behind the foundation of every song she sings, and the evening as a whole.

And she sings, singing entirely and exclusively songs she’s written. Many are new songs, songs she’s never recorded. Some are old. All are great.

The start of the evening was a bit jarring for me and several songs towards the end start to blend together, BUT the songs in the middle are absolute perfection. One is “Breathe,” which is about trying to find moments to breathe for yourself in the middle of the chaos that is every day; when her backup singers joined in, chills went down my spine. “In Case You Didn’t Know” is a slightly dark but incredibly uplifting anthem to understanding how much you do and how much you mean to those around you. “Summer Day” is a gentle riff on summer, the buds that hold on through the winter, waiting for the summer that does inevitably come.

Her songs are warm and positive, and she captures every eye in the room as she’s singing, making it truly impossible to look away.

After singing a few breathtaking songs, she tells us about her love for the songwriting process, as a way to figure out how she’s feeling, what’s really happening in her life. And it shows. Each song is a method to the madness, relief in the midst of chaos, beautiful because it structures and explains something that’s much less beautiful, much more painful.

Over the course of the evening, a few problems come up. But she addresses and solves each one calmly and quickly. When she has problems with her guitar, she whispers “don’t go anywhere, guys” to us; someone shouts back “take your time” and someone else shouts back “we’re here, we’re here.” When her mic suddenly cuts out, her backup singer immediately hands her her mic and switches again once she’s certain both mics are working. It’s the precision and the immediacy that makes it obvious how much everyone, from those on stage to those sitting in the audience, cares.

The evening rides waves on Rhonda Ross’s infectious energy and her passionate reminders to not let ANYONE make you feel bad about yourself, and especially to not let you make yourself feel bad about yourself.

There’s one show left! Go see it.  CLOSES June 27.

 

Tickets here.

CHELSEA TABLE + STAGE opens the doors to hospitality, entertainment, and enjoyment every night, featuring state-of-the-art sound and lighting, a 10-seat in-theater bar, lofted VIP mezzanine for private groups, and table seating for the perfect date night. The ever-changing menu and entertainment schedule means guests never have the same night twice. CHELSEA TABLE + STAGE is located at 152 West 26th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues), downstairs inside the Hilton New York Fashion District.