Aloe Blacc can remember his first time in the muggy oasis of New Orleans clear as day. It was before Good Things Aloe, when he was still in his “future soul hip-hop” phase, but not yet integrated into the music industry as a soul singer and Grammy-nominated recording artist. It was a very messy time in his life… literally. He’d taken over the town for his best friend’s bachelor party, passing through the city’s storied daiquiri drive-thrus, speed racing through the bayou and letting confectioned sugar powder their good clothes in a beignet fight.
Aloe has since returned to the city several times in a more professional capacities—he and Pharrell touched down in the Big Easy for Bruno Mars’ 2014 Moonshine Jungle Tour—but his most recent trip was to honor one of music’s biggest influences: jazz. Aloe’s passion for jazz and the influence music like it has on the world is why Hilton Honors tapped him for their Music Happens Here program.
“We look for artists who are passionate about something,” Mark Weinstein, Senior Vice President & Global Head of Customer Engagement, Loyalty and Partnerships says of Aloe. Just hours after letting six Hilton Honors members in on an exclusive studio session, Blacc serenated about 200 more at the House Of Blues last Friday (May 12). “[Aloe] said, I love R&B and jazz, that’s where this all comes from. He wanted to rerecord ‘What A Wonderful World,’ the Louis Armstrong song, and really wanted to come to New Orleans.”
During the hour-long showcase, Aloe ran through some of his most popular cuts—“You Make Me Smile,” the Elton John-sampling “I’m The Man,” “Wake Me Up” and a snazzy, slowed down cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean” were fan favorites—backed by a vibrant band that brought out the best of all the instruments they played.
Staying in line with the iconic genre perched on his pedestal, jazz also heavily influenced Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, an…