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Live Sound

Queen Latifah Pops into Boston for July 4

After multiple collaborations with the Boston Pops for its annual Fireworks Spectacular, Queen Latifah took to the road this summer for an orchestral mini-tour.

Boston, MA (August 2, 2019)—The musical pairing of Queen Latifah and a symphony may sound unusual at first but based on fan response to her recent orchestral concert dates, it’s becoming business as usual for the multi-faceted artist and her long-time front-of-house engineer, Rob Treloar.

The award-winning rapper, singer, songwriter, actress and producer recently wrapped a mini summer tour playing with symphonies in major markets, including a two-day stop at the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on July 3 and 4. To make her distinctive voice and band’s unique style complement the sound of a full symphony, Treloar used his time-tested, trusted FOH tool: the Yamaha CL5 digital mixing console.

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“When you think of a symphony gig, you probably think of a hoity-toity crowd,” Treloar said, “but that’s definitely changing, especially when you add in someone like Queen Latifah with such a larger-than-life personality and fun style. She’ll do a beautiful song that slows the audience, then turn it up and make everyone feel like they’re at home with their best friend. The crowds love it.”

Queen Latifah played with the Boston Symphony Orchestra the past two years and the response from those shows led to an invitation for the 2019 Independence Day extravaganza, as well as requests for tour dates from other major symphonies.

“We’ve done some wonderful jazz and R&B numbers and even her 90s hits with these different symphonies,” Treloar said. “Dontae Winslow [the tour’s musical director] surprised her last year with a beautiful, almost cinematic ending to the arrangement of her song ‘U.N.I.T.Y.,’ and she turned and looked at the symphony with an expression of ‘wow, this is incredible.’ It was a fun night and it’s opened up a new niche for her.”

Treloar’s audio engineering experience covers more than two decades working for production companies and live venues, and he’s mixed the Queen since her tour supporting her 2007 Trav’lin’ Light album.

Treloar and the Yamaha CL5 have been with Queen Latifah ever since. “I’ve used the CL5 since it came out, live with her band and also in between her tour dates for corporate gigs,” he said. “With many consoles, you have to reach deep into menus and that takes up time and distracts you,” he said. “On the CL5, I can make a change fast and then get back to where I need to be. The way the faders are laid out, you can have three banks of VCA faders controlling groups of drums, guitars or background vocals. I could have those all in front of me on one layer and then switch between working on each group really fast.”

The CL5 also has the right number of features for the work Treloar does. “On other popular consoles, even newer Yamaha models, there are features I just don’t need, like more outputs. I’m only mixing two speaker arrays, left/right sub and front fill. I don’t need 10,000 outputs. The other big thing for me is reliability—I haven’t had any problems since I started using this console. Every concert I’ve done with Queen Latifah has been successful.”

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That run of success includes the recent symphonic tour dates, including Boston on July 3 and 4. “Everything was super smooth and just a joy,” he said, also crediting the combined audio engineering and broadcast teams from the Boston Symphony Orchestra and their production companies Scorpio Sound and Capron Sound and Lighting: Kevin Delaney, Steve Colby, Clayton Young and Andy Vickery.

“They integrated the CL5 into their entire design, at our request, flawlessly. It was amazing considering the size and complexity of this event and the fact it was broadcast live. The CL5, as always, rose to the occasion.”

Yamaha •