Jordin Sparks

JORDIN SPARKS, SCERA Outdoor Theatre, Wednesday

When Jordin Sparks took the stage at the SCERA Outdoor Theatre Wednesday night, she did it without an extravagant set or special effects. In actuality, the concert was all about Sparks displaying her voice — and the large crowd that piled into the theater should have left the show feeling it got its money's worth.

Sparks' show was opened by a local group of girls called 4 Real. The girls only tackled four songs and were on stage for a mere 15 minutes with their most lively song coming at the end, just in time for the crowd to be ready for the main act.

Sparks took the stage just before 9 p.m. and had the crowd engaged from the get-go. She swayed onto stage in a bright floral summer dress and wasted no time in doing what she does best.

She sang "One Step at a Time," her newest single from her self-titled debut album, and it set the tone for the concert. Her next song was the Billboard Top 10 hit "Tattoo." After the first verse of "Tattoo," she stopped the band and said, "Now I have never done this before, but who thinks they can come up here and sing this with me?" As many rushed toward the stage for a chance to sing along with "American Idol"'s Season 6 winner, Sparks chose one lucky fan, gave her a bear hug and a microphone to sing along.

Later in the show, Sparks spoke of the tour she recently completed where she opened for Ne-Yo and Alicia Keys. She then broke into her own rendition of Keys' "Fallin'," which showed the range of her voice and would have made even Simon Cowell proud.

Later on, Sparks did covers of Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker," as well as Stevie Wonder's "Superstition." On both occasions she showed her ability to cross genres and generations, which brought the adults to their feet to join the youngsters in the crowd.

Sparks sang nearly all of the songs from her album during the hour she was on stage. The highlight of the night was near the end when she sang her enormous hit "No Air," a duet recorded with Chris Brown. Sparks told that crowd before singing it that she recently learned the song is the highest selling single by any "American Idol" contestant. "I'm sorry Chris Brown couldn't be here with me, so I will just sing it myself," said Sparks. The vast majority of the fans were cout of their seats and enjoying every word.

Sparks was a delight to listen to, she showed personality and she took time to embrace as many of her fans as she could throughout the night. Still a teenager, Sparks is proving her best wasn't on television during "Idol" — it's still ahead of her.


E-mail: ethomas@desnews.com