Barry White Experience pays tribute to an icon at The Birchmere

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Barry White Experience at The Birchmere (Part 1)

It was originally scheduled for Valentine’s Day, but the pandemic had other plans.

Now, you can enjoy The Barry White Experience this Sunday at The Birchmere.

The tribute show features Harvey Hubert & Keith “Showtime” Busey’s Orchestra.

“The Birchmere will be our first tour,” Executive Producer Tarsha Fitzgerald told WTOP. “Harvey Hubert comes from Kansas City. … The band is from the D.C. area, Keith “Showtime” Busey featuring NWO Horns, so it’s a full orchestra, 10-piece band. … Birchmere is our first stop, then we plan to go to Alabama, Atlanta and the Carolinas.”

The band will cover all of White’s biggest hits on the set list.

“‘You’re the First, the Last, My Everything,’ one of my favorites, ‘Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Babe,’ if you remember ‘Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up,'” Fitzgerald said. “It’s 90 minutes, two 45-minute sets, ‘Practice What You Preach,’ ‘Playing Your Game, Baby,’ one of the ladies’ favorites is ‘[It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next to Me].’ We’re going to take you on a journey.”

From his birth in 1944 to his death in 2003, White had a signature bass-baritone voice.

“He just had a distinct baritone voice,” Fitzgerald said. “He was just very unique, different. They called him the ‘maestro.’ There’s no one else that could sound like Barry White. … He demanded your undivided attention. Both men and women loved him. … A lot of people still use his music for weddings and special events.”

There’s even a “show within a show” recreating the nine-minute “The Secret Garden.”

“Quincy Jones actually produced ‘The Secret Garden’ on Barry White’s CD,” Fitzgerald said. “We have three special guests: Michael Muse, formerly of The Stylistics, portraying James Ingram, Jimmy Henderson [will portray] Al B. Sure!, then we have Tyrone Toomer [as El DeBarge]. … The four of them will do a ‘Secret Garden’ presentation.”

They are thrilled to be playing at a venue like The Birchmere with such rich tradition.

“It’s historic,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s been in business for over 54 years. The quality of the food, service, staff. … We want to wow you at the front of house, back of house, on stage. … I just love The Birchmere. It’s top notch. It’s one of my favorite venues.”

Social distancing protocols will be in effect.

“The concert at The Birchmere is social distancing and you wear your mask,” Fitzgerald said. “We have the tables spread out. In normal times, The Birchmere holds like 500 people, but during COVID they’re allowed half that capacity. … You sit only with the people that you come with, so you won’t be sitting at the table with strangers.”

Tickets are $35.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Barry White Experience at The Birchmere (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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