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August 30, 2014, 6:19 am

Rabiyah preparing to carry Philly’s rich jazz tradition

As people begin considering ways to honor that special lady in their lives, SkyDiamond Productions presents the “Bridging the Gap” Mother’s Day Show,” taking place May 12 from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. at Penn’s Landing Caterers, Washington Avenue and Columbus Boulevard.

Hosted by 1360 AM radio personality King Arthur, also of Cruisin’ 92.1 FM, the show features The Delfonics Review with William “Poogie” Hart, Phyllies Intruders and The Destinations.

These esteemed veterans have made music history with hits such as “La La Means I Love You,” “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time?” “Somebody Loves You,” “Cowboys to Girls” and “I’ll Always Love My Mama,” and hoping to add to Philadelphia’s musical legacy will be 16-year-old Rabiyah, an up-and-coming jazz/R&B artist who cites Phyllis Hyman and Dianne Reeves as her chief influences.

Now causing quite a stir in venues throughout the city, Rabiyah, who is currently a junior at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), began her young career as a student of Sherry Butler at the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz, and made a serious commitment to the idiom after seeing Dianne Reeves in concert.

“I just like that jazz is so laid back and calm. Everybody calls me an ‘old soul,’” Rabiyah said during a recent visit to the Philadelphia Tribune. “I’ve been doing a little Philly Sound and some R&B, but it still mixes with jazz — not that I force it to. Like, I’ll do an R&B song and it still has some jazz themes to it.”

At the upcoming Mother’s Day concert, Rabiyah will be performing with a 7-piece band featuring Robert Kenyatta (percussion); Dave Lacour (guitar); Kem Pedro (drums); Immanuel Wilkin (saxophone); James Cooper (bass); Kendrah Butler (piano) and Zoe Hillengas (flute), and her set will include familiar songs such as “Better Days” and “Is It the Way?” as well as an original composition titled “Driven.” However, she is particularly captivated by the life and music of the late Phyllis Hyman.

“I’m doing ‘Meet Me on the Moon,’” Rabiyah said. “I feel like when she sings, I feel what she’s talking about, and her story. After I learned about her life, I feel like she brings everything that she’s feeling, and she makes the audience feel the song.”      

Between her schedule at CAPA and her professional engagements, Rabiyah maintains a busy schedule. However, her grandfather, Wali Hamid, who has been guiding his granddaughter’s artistic path since she was 11 years old, said that a recording contract may be in Rabiyah’s future, but her education is top priority. The polite, soft-spoken singer is interested in entertainment law and hopes to attend the University of Pennsylvania or Howard University.  

“I actually want her to go to college and do her thing, and there will be something on the business end waiting for her,” Hamid said. “Whatever she wants to do after she comes out of there, it’s all right, but right now, she’s into the music, and this is what she wants to do. As long as she does it, I’ll be there. If she says, ‘Grandpop, let’s give it up,’ I’ll give it up. It’s that simple.”

As Rabiyah hones her craft in the hopes of perpetuating Philly’s tradition of creative and artistic excellence, she believes that music continues to be a unifying force in the City of Brotherly Love

“It is a Mother’s Day show and the main concept is ‘Bridging the Gap,’ so we have young artists and older artists. That’s our main idea, bringing people together,” she said.

For tickets and information call (267) 984-0340 or (215) 829-1600.


Contact Entertainment Reporter Kimberly C. Roberts at (215) 893-5753 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .