On November 01, 2018 Espolòn Tequila kicked off Day of the Dead with a special celebration at Academy in Hollywood. In the spirit of remembering and honoring those we have lost, Empire’s (FOX) Jussie Smollett paid homage to musical legends who have inspired him throughout his career with an electrifying performance.
To honor those that have left us, Jussie covered iconic hits from Michael Jackson, BB King, Prince, Whitney Houston (with the help of Ashly Williams and Shyann Roberts), and ended the set with Tupac’s ‘California Love,’ ripping off his jacket to rap the lyrics.
In an interview backstage, right before the show, the very talented star - he sings, dance, and act - said: “I have celebrated Day of the Dead. It’s interesting, because I definitely know about the Day of the Dead and I definitely have been celebrating it. And it is always not every year, but I definitely acknowledge it every single year. I think it is actually something really beautiful to acknowledge the people who have passed, the people who have come before us. That’s why this when Espolon came and asked me to be a part of this to be able to honor. Is this super cool? Like to be able to honor the people that I loved growing up, the people that we may have lost way too soon. It’s kind of dull so tonight should be a super chills.”
Always poignant, Jussie encouraged the crowd to exercise their vote during the Midterm Elections on November 6th and performed ‘Need Freedom’ from Season 3 of Empire, a tribute to those we have been lost due to police shootings and inspired the Black Lives Matter movement.
“You will see tonight like there’s a moment in the show where I was just.., we were trying so hard to come up with different things and we would have had like a five hour show because there were so many people. I was like, WE GOTTA DO ELVIS, WE GOTTA DO JOHN LENNON, WE GOTTA DO THIS, WE GOTTA DO THAT, and it was just like bro, like it’s a 55-minute show, just chill on that. So, it was really difficult, but you will see tonight, we do little bits of a lot of different songs, so that we could get a lot of different songs done. We even do California Love by Tupak,” Jussie said about the set that he was about to perform.
During his rendition of Ray Charles’ ‘I Got a Woman,’ the DJ broke into Kanye West’s sample ‘Gold Digger’ to which Jussie exclaimed, “I’m still pissed off at Kanye so f*&k that. But shout out to Ray Charles for giving him the song cuz that sh*t was poppin!”
The crowd broke into the electric slide as Jussie performed Luther Vandross’ ‘Never Too Much.’
Jussie also performed a mixture of songs from his new Album Sum of My Music including ‘Hurt People,’ ‘Ha Ha (I Love You)’ which he wrote for his new beau, and ‘Freedom’.
He also told me about the tour he just wrapped up: “We went on tour, a 40-city tour and we went to four different continents, seven different countries and 40 different cities. Every single city was sold out. Every single city. And I was able to donate every single cent from the proceeds of the tour to charity. So, we were able to able to donate over $100,000 to eight different charities. The Black Institute, ACLU, For Your Rights Care, Trayvon Martin Foundation, Flint Kids, the Anthony Burrell Dance Theater.”