Theoden Janes

Should I have compared ’90s singer to ‘dying cat’? His wife thinks I went too far.

Color Me Badd lead singer Bryan Abrams, left, with group-mates Kevin “K.T.” Thornton and Mark Calderon.
Color Me Badd lead singer Bryan Abrams, left, with group-mates Kevin “K.T.” Thornton and Mark Calderon.

Two Sundays ago, I attended a concert at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center that, in my opinion, was bad.

There were a few bright moments in the nostalgia tour known as “I Love the ’90s” – starring old-school rappers Vanilla Ice, Salt-n-Pepa, Rob Base, Coolio and Tone Loc – but I personally did not think R&B group Color Me Badd was one of them.

And in my review, I was harsh:

“C.M.B. had three monster hits ... All I wrote in my notebook while lead singer Bryan Abrams worked up a flop sweat while going a cappella at the end of ‘I Wanna Sex You Up’ was ‘dying cat’...”

These days, readers beyond Charlotte find my reviews of major concert tours, which is not surprising given the level of national interest in some of these shows, and the power of the Internet. This review found its way to Kimberly Abrams, wife of Color Me Badd’s lead singer.

In response, she sent me a thoughtful and respectful message via Facebook that defended her husband; dressed me down for being so negative; and lamented a society that seems to thrive on divisiveness.

Look, on the one hand, I firmly believe that anyone who puts themselves out there on a stage is open to criticism, and that they have to develop a thick skin or they’ll go crazy – and that goes for anyone from Donald Trump all the way down to ... um, me.

On the other hand, though, I do feel Kimberly Abrams made some compelling points. So I asked if she’d allow the Observer to publish what she wrote, so others could consider a counter-argument to my review... and she said yes.

The letter

Hello Théoden:

I read your concert review of the “I Love the 90’s” tour in Charlotte on Dec. 4. I am Bryan Abrams’ wife from Color Me Badd, and I want to give you a small piece of information since you kinda ripped my husband to shreds in your article.

My husband had the flu that night. I had the flu and our two little girls had the flu. He’s been busting his butt on this 100-plus city tour this last year. Charlotte was the fourth-to-last stop for the year and, then, the guys have a very well-deserved eight weeks off before resuming on the tour for an even more ambitious year in 2017.

Bryan struggled to get through that show and I’m very proud of him for not calling it off, especially considering the fact that this was a rescheduled date, following the rioting that ensued during its originally scheduled concert date. He did it in spite of being terribly sick and an incredibly hoarse voice because he didn’t want to let the fans down a second time (the first being due to the rioting) in Charlotte. Pretty admirable if you ask me.

(Editor’s note: The “I Love the ’90s” show in Charlotte was originally scheduled for Sept. 23, but was postponed due to the protests and subsequent riots that broke out uptown in the wake of the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. Also, Abrams didn’t mention being ill during the Dec. 4 show.)

I want to add that entertainers are humans, too. I don’t know if you’re a father or husband, but I can imagine you would not like to be criticized to the world (and to your family) without the critic at least first knowing the circumstances involving the proverbial “stage” in which you are critiqued. But, unfortunately, it wouldn’t make for a good concert if all of the entertainers on the bill came forward, broadcasting their woes for the evening. Artists simply do their best, and, for most fans, one’s best is good enough because music is about having fun and coming together.

The unfortunate truth is that entertainment, to me, has evolved in recent years, due in part to social media and the internet, into more of a judgment rather than what once was pleasure and hospitality from the audience. Entertainment is no longer enjoyable; instead, everyone thinks he or she is a critic. And it’s the one with the most clever cut-down who is celebrated.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying your piece wasn’t entertaining at times; it was. But it was also presumptuous – even rude – at other times.

You are a very talented writer but you shouldn’t squander it away by writing negative stories.

I hope you can put forth a better public service effort whilst less insulting in your future reviews. With the divisiveness in our country, in Charlotte for example, we certainly should be embracing the common grounds that bring us together, like music, rather than tearing them down. You can use your voice in very powerful and influential ways, especially in times such as this ... for good ... or for bad. Your choice.

In closing, I ask that you please digest my message and consider the possibility that the subject of your next review may have authentic limitations or real disabilities before you shred them for circumstantially not meeting your expectations.

Thank you for reading. Best wishes to you in your future endeavors. :)


Kimberly Abrams

What do you think?

Have thoughts to share on my opinion, her opinion, or the nature of criticism in general? Post a comment, email me at, call or tweet at me.

Janes: 704-358-5897;

Twitter: @theodenjanes