BJ The Chicago Kid’s ‘The Gravy Tour’ Smothers New York City With Soul


The ever-competitive music market is a maniac battle of metrics. Amid the big three’s (hip-hop, pop, and country) constant fight for dominance, little old soul tends to get lost in the shuffle. Over the last decade or so, that hasn’t stopped BJ The Chicago Kid from putting his best sultry note forward to carry the genre and its legacy on his back. His latest album, Gravy, is a preserved capsule of the genre’s timeless sounds and flairs from the pioneers who helped shape it. His supporting The Gravy Tour is a communal meet-up where fans and novices alike are engulfed in its richness. 

As part of the 24-date run, the proud child of the Windy City’s Southside unapologetically blew through the Big Apple. On April 30, BJ The Chicago Kid’s The Gravy Tour smothered New York City’s Blue Note with vintage soul in a way those in attendance will never forget. Unlike his peers rush to arenas, BJ The Chicago Kid consciously decided to corner the market on intimate venues. This was another blatant display of his mission to build a solid foundation to steady his ascension. He knows his message, voice, and soul’s sonics, but most importantly, BJ The Chicago Kid knows what his fans want. As the crooner returned to the stage for a second time that night, he was greeted with a thunderous roar.

From the moment the moody blue stage lights hit his rich mahogany skin, it was transparently clear that you would witness history in the making, something the Blue Note Jazz Club is accustomed to curating. Although he has collaborated with everyone from legends like Earth, Wind, & Fire’s Philip Bailey to rising newbies such as Coco Jones, this night was unapologetically all about BJ The Chicago Kid. With no background singers and only three supporting musicians (bassists Arthur Sutton Jr., Derex Williams, and drummer Steve Stewart), BJ The Chicago Kid’s showmanship shined through.  

As an artist whose catalog is centered on closeness, Blue Note’s tight quarters served as the ideal backdrop for what BJ The Chicago Kid has slow-cooked for years. Based on his joyous interactions with the band and his mean two-step, BJ The Chicago Kid proved size doesn’t matter. He fiercely worked every square foot of the stage as if it were at Madison Square Garden. 

From his thoughtful covers of other greats to endless praise of the crowd (even those who were just casually interested in his abilities), the theme for the show was gratitude. When the non-believers were in his hands, the performance quickly propelled to another level, which served as a silent metaphor for his entry into music. BJ The Chicago Kid didn’t enter the scene with a viral hit. He humbly grinded it out until he won listeners over. Miles away from his home, BJ The Chicago Kid turned the audience into his adoptive family as he discussed survivor’s guilt, grief, isolation, shadow-work, and ultimately resurrection. ‘The Gravy Tour’ is personal, cozy, and hearty, like the comforting sauce warming the palate and the heart. 

Unfortunately, despite being packed like sardines in a vacuum-sealed canister into the 250(ish)-seater, one colossal elephant in the room prevented attendees from fathomlessly fastening to each other. Like any standard family gathering, the pods of nuclear versus extended fans became too apparent to ignore. Usually, in a sold-out crowd, this minor detail is rendered inconsequential. However, given BJ The Chicago Kid’s inclusion of the crowd into his performance, it is indeed germane. 

To assume that the multiethnic crowd couldn’t be connoisseurs of classic soul and, as a result, BJ The Chicago Kid’s discography is ignorant. But the pockets of silence were deafening as the vocalist belted out his early career fan favorites and concupiscent covers of other cult classics. It is no fault of BJ The Chicago Kid’s that tourists looking for something to do on a beautiful spring evening snatched up tickets to the iconic club. Or maybe the night’s earlier show was filled with his day ones. There is something he must accept responsibility for keeping the out-of-touch audience entranced. What could have easily plagued the night turned into its silver lining. Whether or not you’re familiar with BJ The Chicago Kid, his professional work, or the music he holds near, his gravitational pull is inescapable. After emerging from the initial frustration, it became abundantly clear that BJ The Chicago Kid is an intergenerational multiethnic crossing musician. His musicianship, ear for music, and deep cultural appreciation crowns BJ The Chicago Kid, the ambassador of soul you didn’t realize was necessary.  

BJ The Chicago Kid deserves his flowers. While he waits for the world to bestow him with an appropriate bouquet, BJ The Chicago Kid is tending to the garden planted generations before his arrival. 

Do you want more of BJ The Chicago Kid? Connect with him on your favorite social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook

BJ The Chicago Kid’s latest album, Gravy, is available for purchase here or streaming on your favorite music platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal.

*Cover photo credit: Louie Global


  1. “Nobody Knows”
  2. “Long Time”
  3. “Liquor Store In The Sky”
  4. “Never Change” featuring Philip Bailey
  5. “Turn Your Lights Down Low” (Bob Marley and the Wailers cover)
  6. “Hello It’s Me” (The Isley Brothers cover)
  7. “(At Your Best) You Are Love” (The Isley Brothers cover)
  8. “Resume”
  9. “Candy Rain” (Soul For Real cover)
  10. “Weak” (SWV cover)
  11. “6 Months”
  12. “Love Inside”
  13. “Time Today”
  14. “Close” (Ella Mai cover)
  15. “Can’t Wait”
  16. “Church”
  17. “Smooth”
  18. “Turning Me Up”
  19. “We’ll Be Alright (Outro)”

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