NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Christina Aguilera gave her fans a little bit of jazz, a little bit of blues, and a lot of soul during her debut performance Friday at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
The very pregnant performer shimmied and danced her way through a litany of hits including “Lady Marmalade,” the LaBelle song she helped remake into a hit years ago; “Dirrty,” ”Candyman,” ”Ain’t No Other Man,” ”Beautiful,” ”What a Girl Wants,” and her final song of the night, “Fighter.”
Morgan Griffith of Dallas said she came to Jazz Fest so she could hear Aguilera’s voice live.
“I’ve seen her at the Super Bowl and in her movies, like ‘Burlesque,’ and she’s just an amazing performer. “She doesn’t just sing. It’s everything on cue: the dancers, the setup … just everything.”
“She has such a strong voice,” added Griffith’s friend, Courtney Vrij, also of Dallas.
Aguilera also sang several covers of several songs, including “Moves Like Jagger,” by Maroon 5; “Whole Lotta Love,” by Led Zeppelin; B.B. King’s “The Thrill is Gone;” ”It’s a Man’s World,” by James Brown; and “At Last,” by Etta James.
The set included a special guest performance by Ian Axel of A Great Big World on “Say Something,” which featured Aguilera.
One of Aguilera’s other “guests” was her unborn daughter, her second child, whom she already calls a “roadie.”
“This baby girl has already hit the stage in Malaysia,” she said in an email statement prior to her performance. “It’s mama’s job. We roll with it. She’ll be listening to the concert from inside me. … That’s pretty special.”
The performer left the stage often for small wardrobe changes — mostly hats or head pieces. She also interspersed the set with lengthy introductions explaining what inspired her to sing a particular song. And she thanked the crowd several times.
“I love looking out at a crowd and seeing happy faces, smiling faces, drinking faces, smoking faces,” she said, drawing applause and laughter, “It’s a good feeling to be a part of it.”
Festival producer Quint Davis said he hand-picks artists for the festival who he thinks will suit the experience. He called Aguilera “one of the great vocalists of our era.”
“That’s what I look for: greatness,” he added.
Other performers Friday included soul great Chaka Khan, the rock group Alabama Shakes and Louisiana-based acts including the Charmaine Neville Band, Amanda Shaw and the Hot 8 Brass Band.
The festival ends Sunday.
Associated Press Writer Stacey Plaisance contributed to this report.