“R&B Divas” recap (Ep. 8): “I don’t care what people think”

It is a big day for the divas as they all land in New Orleans for Essence Fest. This is also the season finale of R&B Divas, which I was not at all emotionally prepared for. It’s a beautiful finale though, because it’s filled with all the best qualities that characterize this show: music, sisterhood, and triumph. Even Nicci was happy! Of course, there was some drama and cursing and crying, too — there was a lot of cursing — but I think most of that had to do with the fact that they were in New Orleans and when you’re in New Orleans it’s hard not to be drizunk most of the time.

Indeed, as soon as they’re in town, after an awkward obvious promo for a service called Black Atlas (guess what, this episode was brought to you by Black Atlas!), they hit up a restaurant in the French Quarter servin’ cocktails and fried stuff and a healthy dose of jazz. The happiness is already abundant on all of their faces, as it should be. Keke makes a series of hilarity inducing faces. Nicci uses the phrase “honey boo boo child.” I want to be there.

The good times turn slightly sour when they enter a studio to rehearse their performance. First off, the idea behind their performance is genius: they’re each going to sing an individual song in tribute to an R&B legend who’s passed away in the last year. Classy, cohesive, and a sure crowd pleaser, honey boo boo child. Monifah will kick it off with “Last Dance” by Donna Summer, all the way to Keke wrapping it up with “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney. (I’m still grieving.) At the end of this song, all the ladies will join Keke on stage for the last chorus.

Everything seems to be going swell until Keke. There is not much Keke could do to make me stop loving her at this point, but she has a straight up meltdown right here. She says she can’t hear herself, that her voice doesn’t sound right, that she needs a new song. Everyone else gets to do ballads, why does she have to do this one, because it just ain’t working for her right now, wah. It gets to the point where, like a pouty child, she says she refuses to do it unless they change the song. Even though it’s a great song and she knew she was going to sing it for a long time before this moment. Nicci says that Keke’s just nervous, and I think that’s definitely part of it. I also think she’s just drunk and wound up. The best part of this whole thing though are the hired musicians in the studio, who watch the hubbub the entire time with entirely goofy, bewildered grins on their faces the whole time. Like, “We got a whole lotta crazy up in here.”

They don’t change the song.

Next day, we get yet another touching moment between Terez and Monifah. As they hit the town on this amazing little scooter thing, Mo thinks it’s a good idea to bring up Terez moving to Atlanta. I’ve been waiting for this talk. They keep discussing marriage and kids and all that, but honey is still in New York while Mo’s in the ATL. Monifah explains that a lot of good things are happening for her there, and it’s where she wants to buy a house.

Terez explains her reservations about the South in a bit of a quite-understandable rant: as advanced as Atlanta is, there’s still Jim Crow attitudes going on, and as she says rather passionately, “I am not living or contributing to anything that does not support equality.” Word.

While Monifah says she understands that completely, they have to be able to “take their bumps and bruises.” As she says, “I can’t be walking around worrying about this or hiding that. This is who I am. I don’t care what people think.”

Monifah: one of the best damn role models I have ever seen on my TV.

She clearly has her sway over Terez, as well, because she changes her tune pretty fast. Soon she’s agreeing that they need to check out properties in Atlanta together, get a feel for the social climate — and the schools, she says with a smile, shooting a happy glance at Mo. You guys!

Moving on from coupledom bliss to career bliss, Syleena sits back and examines how much this event means to her over some beignets with her whole family at Cafe du Monde. This scene had me collapsing in giggles almost the whole time, because Miss Syleecia just could not understand the Cafe du Monde experience. For those of you who haven’t been lucky enough to experience it yourself, beignets are essentially pieces of fried dough that Cafe du Monde then covers in a ridiculous amount of powdered sugar. And I mean a ridiculous amount. It’s impossible to not get all over you. It’s sort of the thing. Syleecia first asks how many calories are in them, to which Syleena retorts, “What kind of person comes into a sugar factory and says, how much calories is your sugar?” I agree. Syleecia continues, “This place is a disaster. You’re serving your kids drugs.” A disaster! The most famous restaurant in New Orleans! *slaps table* Also, they’re trying to eat the beignets with forks. This is amazing. I love you, Syleecia.