JLo at last night's free concert at Orchard Beach by State Farm's Neighborhood Sessions / Image ©Katrina Davis / Katrina Davis Photography for Welcome2TheBronx
JLo at last night’s free concert at Orchard Beach by State Farm’s Neighborhood Sessions / Image ©Katrina Davis / Katrina Davis Photography for Welcome2TheBronx

Jennifer Lopez finally came home yesterday.

In her first ever performance in the Bronx, the borough she is forever reminding us she’s from and is still in her heart, JLo gave her fans a night they’ll never forget.

The free concert was part of State Farm’s launch of their Neighborhood Sessions where they provide free concerts in an artist’s hometown and this was their first ever.

Although the gates for concert goers at Orchard Beach wouldn’t open until 5pm, fans were already lined up before noon.

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By the time I arrived around 2pm (sailed in smoothly thanks to the NYPD and 45th Precinct for their excellent handling of traffic) there were already about 200 in line and the mood was very festive. Many were carrying Puerto Rican flags and wearing JLo t-shirts. Strangers were standing together sharing their favorite JLo songs and moments and dancing to her songs.

Each time a camera crew or photographer came by the jubilant crowd would shout in excitement, waving their flags and homemade JLo fan signs.

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When 5pm came by and the gates opened we rushed in and got to the front of the stage and camped out for another two hours waiting for the show to begin. By that time it was a sea of thousands of fans with flags waving as if we were at the Puerto Rican Day Parade.

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As the clock ticked closer to 7PM, the jumbo screens on either side of the stage began displaying photos of everyday life in the Bronx as well as our own Bronx heroes such as Baron Ambrosia, Rosalba Rolon of Pregones Theatre, Michael Max Knobbe, Executive Director of BronxNet, Caridad De La Luz, Charles Rice-Gonzalez, Executive Director of BAAD and so many others (that was one of my favorite highlights from the show: Seeing the faces of everyday Bronxites striving to make a difference in our borough).

All the waiting finally paid off for the fans when JLo came on stage rising up on a platform singing several verses of, “I’m Coming Home” and immediately sank back under the stage and then emerged wearing a stunning rehash of her famous green Versace dress.

The entire 90 minute performance was just one song right after another and I’ll give it to her, she can really put on a show.  Much to everyone’s surprise, she performed numbers with special guests like Ja Rule, and the Bronx’s own Fat Joe and French Montana. For a free concert, JLo and State Farm really stopped at nothing.

I have been a harsh critic of Jennifer Lopez and her lack of giving back to the community for some time now.  I hold her to a higher standard because she is one of the most successful entrepreneurs and entertainers that have come from our borough.  As I mentioned before, it’s her life, it’s her money and she can do what she wants to with it.  My main issue was always that she uses the “coming from The Bronx” narrative yet never gave back to the community she constantly was talking about and saying she was from.

Her recent contribution to Montefiore in partnering up with helping children learn to eat better to combat obesity is a major step in the right direction — regardless if it’s being done for PR or truly from the bottom of her heart. The point is that she’s using her star power to bring attention to a major issue affecting our children and adults alike that make us the unhealthiest borough in the entire state of New York.

Last night was a beautiful night for the people of the Bronx regardless of your opinions about Jennifer Lopez are.  Seeing the ecstatic faces of her fans throughout the entire experience, from waiting in long lines for hours, through the show and at the end of the performance was a wonderful thing.  Fans that have supported her no matter what. Fans who have supported JLo even though it took her so long to come back home to perform for her fans. Fans who otherwise could not afford a show of such caliber.

Whatever her motives are for “coming back home” I thank JLo for coming back to the block and showing some love for her fans.

Enjoy the pictures!
[slideshow_deploy id=’2724′] A big thank you to Katrina Davis of Katrina Davis Photography who came along with us and took all these great photos of the evening. Without her, we wouldn’t be able to share these wonderful images with you. Make sure to also follow her on Facebook!

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