*Songwriting/producing icons Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis brought back gospel singers Ann Nesby and the Sounds of Blackness for a 30-year reunion performance of their hit “Optimistic” at the Billboard Music Awards Sunday night (May 23).
Delivered from Prince’s Paisley Park as a tribute to the duo’s Minneapolis hometown, Jam and Lewis shouted out the “place that musically has always represented change to the status quo.” They were then joined on stage by Nesby and the Sounds of Blackness, who stood in a circle to perform “Optimistic” a cappella, with powerful photos of recent activism (much of which has been recently centered in Minneapolis) shown on a screen behind them.
“Optimistic” reached No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs in 1991, and also made the top 20 of the Dance Club Songs listing.
Watch their Billboard performance below: