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Last night (May 13), Los Angeles was treated to a magnetic performance by breakout R&B sensation Kehlani as HBO’s Bessie 81 Tour rides right along through its West Coast stint.

The legacy of Bessie Smith is being celebrated in full as the network prepares for the May 16 premiere of Bessie, starring Queen Latifah. In all her pioneering glory, the lineage of Smith has been organically been passed down to all variations of singers who proceeded her. Kehlani evoked the same fearlessness the blues singer used to captivate a crowd while making it look to easy.

We saw the Bay Area artist’s star potential at this year’s SXSW and she managed to earn a few more believers off the strength of music from her new mixtape, You Should Be Here and existing catalog.

While possessing a well-oiled dance routine, Kehlani juggled sensual (“How That Taste) with sultry (“Get Away”) and ended things with her fan favorite, “Loyal.”

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The venue’s ambiance was ripe leading up to the headliner’s performance as DJ D-Nice got the crowd hype in between solid performances from Tiffany Gouche and all-female trio KING. Luke James hosted the event as plenty of music notables such as Zendaya, producer Bryan Michael Cox and Top Dawg Entertainment’s Dave Free looked on.

Check out all the pictures from the festivities and get up on Kehlani’s latest on iTunes now.

Photos: Dorothy Hong

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