Red, white and blue cupcakes, hamburgers and Shaffer Chimere Smith in your backyard for to celebrate this past 4th of July holiday weekend. The last may seem like an unwelcomed guest, but for Soldiers and their families stationed on the Fort Hamilton Army Base in Brooklyn, the name was music to their ears. Shaffer, famously known as Def Jam recording artist Ne-Yo, showed his support for the troops by giving a free concert on July 2, right next to the houses on the base. “This is just a way for me to show my appreciation for what the troops do” he said.
The field on the base held over 4,000 people, with the aroma of funnel cakes, Italian sausages and lamb gyros in the air. Despite the large turnout, there was still plenty of space for concertgoers to spread out and lounge on their blankets and for the kids to play around in portable playground.
Prior to Ne-Yo hitting the stage, he held a press conference and an intimate meet and greet with families of fallen and wounded Soldiers. Smiling from ear to ear, Ne-Yo said, “I’m out here supporting the people that support me. I’m happy to be here.”
After answering the tough questions, shaking hands and kissing babies, the Arkansas native hit the stage. The concert may have been free, but the expressions on his fans faces were priceless. Ne-Yo glided across the stage for nearly an hour, playing his hits chronologically from his “Because of You” days, got “Closer” to his fans by giving away his fans and hat, a 10-minute instrumental lead into his ode to the hardworking woman, “Miss Independent” and brought us up to date with hits from his latest “Libra Scale” with jams like “Champagne Life.” He ended the night singing his part to this week’s Billboard 100 number 1 song, Pitbull’s “Give Me Everything.”
In addition to Ne-Yo’s performance, one of the U.S. Army’s own had an opportunity to gain new fans. Indiana National Guardsman Spec. Rena Cunningham is a member of the U.S. Army Soldier Show and was delighted at the chance to open for Ne-Yo. “Everything is a blessing and it’s humbling to sing before him,” she said. “I got to meet Ne-Yo and learn from him. It’s fun.”
At the end of the night, fireworks lit the sky over Fort Hamilton base to celebrate the holiday. See my other write-up via Parlour Magazine.
Just another day in Brooklyn…