The strangest thing happens in the first episode of “R&B Divas: L.A.”
Nobody immediately steps forward to be awful. Nobody scratches anyone’s eyes out.
It’s oddly refreshing.
This spinoff of the successful Atlanta-based “R&B Divas” features six performers: Kelly Price, Lil’ Mo, Michel’le, Claudette Ortiz, Dawn Robinson and Chante Moore.
For the opening episode, Price persuades the others to come to an open-mic night that she envisions as a statement about the enduring power of true R&B and actual, authentic singing.
That art has fallen into the shadows, she suggests, and it’s time to bring it back.
She’s got the right crowd for the message. Most of these artists are trying to create their own second act, which is one of the hardest plays anywhere in showbiz.
Robinson, for instance, started in En Vogue, which she left because she says the singers weren’t getting properly paid.
Price, a close friend of Whitney Houston, moved out front after singing with almost everyone.
The show naturally coaxes out some personal dramas, including Michel’le’s casual and rather disturbing assertion that “you don’t have to be in love to make a baby — it’s called sex.”
Maybe not the best message for teen girls these days.
But while there’s an occasional edgy exchange, this show doesn’t focus on the bad girl who will stir things up. It’s more about talented performers trying to get their work seen and heard.
That’s drama enough.