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Estelle, Essence Music Festival 2012: Singer Goes ‘Around the World,’ Gives Fan Naughty Dance

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Estelle is totally believable as the girl next door, even when performing in the heart of New Orleans Sunday night (July 8), where she played the Essence Music Festival Coca Cola Superlounge.

The All of Me creator immediately took the stage with an infectious energy, launching into a rendition of The Supremes‘ “You Can’t Hurry Love.” When the crowd appeared to be too preoccupied with getting the best shot of the British songstress, she broke into a grin and joked about staying focused.

“I know y’all didn’t just come to look at me,” she said haughtily. With that — a single gesture of goodwill — Estelle cracked the awkward barrier between artist and audience and things got interesting.

The Atlantic Records signee promptly announced that she would be taking the intimate audience “around the world” during her set. She proceeded to rip through a few hit singles and popular album cuts including “Pretty Please (Love Me),” “Thank You,” “Break My Heart” and “Do My Thing.”

The reggae-inspired bassline of “Come Over” blended perfectly with Bob Marley‘s “Is This Love” and Estelle invited a fan to dance onstage in the midst of it all. She led the crowd in taunting him as he slowly made his way up front. By the time he’d arrived, she’d begun to slow whine and commanded him to have respect. “One rule,” she said, her eyebrow raised. “No touching or I swear…”

Estelle’s voice onstage is simultaneously as strong and breezy as it is on record. Graceful and infinitely charming, she took charge of the Superlounge that night. As the audience looked towards her, performing “American Boy” and “Blame It on the Boogie,” the chanteuse couldn’t stop beaming, her voice cracking with appreciation as she thanked her fans for just being fans.

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