Leona Lewis, Ne-Yo Soar at Hennessy Artistry Finale

With eyes the color of premium cognac, both flirtatious and sincere, careless locks flowing free, and a voice that conquers sound barriers, could Leona Lewis really be the new Mariah?

That’s definitely up for debate but one thing’s for sure: She can get a crowd of people invested. It’s a little past 11 p.m. on a Wednesday night at Gotham Hall in New York City and the Hennessy Artistry Concert Series reached its climax. Guests crowded in the center in front of the stage, already hyped up by the Retro Kids, who performed before Ms. Lewis. The host and Hennessy spokesperson for the evening, Ne-Yo, has yet to hit the stage but the anticipation mounted.

With a huge domed cathedral-like ceiling, Gotham Hall was exploding, bursting with random glitterati—everyone from Usher and Ludacris to Chrisette Michele and the newly emancipated Audrey O’Day. DJ Cassidy spun those ’80s and early ’90s joints that got even the stiffest industry dudes moving, followed by a set by DJ Jazzy Jeff.


The evening was warm and humid, but it began to get hot inside when Fabolous and Ne-Yo hit the stage to perform their over-played, yet always crowd-pleasing “Make Me Better.” Ne-Yo epitomized the swag and sophistication that Hennessy prides itself on, dressed dapperly as usual in a suit and tilted brim. As the party trickled on into the early morning hours, guests stayed past their bedtime for another drink, another song, and another chance to rock to the vocal stylings of some contemporary classics.

–Rajul Punjabi in New York