Mary J. Blige and Deborah Cox, tribute to Chaka Khan


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To pay tribute to Chaka Khan you don’t just call on any vocalist, you call on some of the best: Patti LaBelle, Jennifer Holliday, Mary J. Blige and Deborah Cox. These divas united on stage to honor Chaka Khan as part of the Apollo’s 8thAnnual Spring Gala Concert. They were joined by Alexandra Burke who gave a lively set. Although she did not perform, Erykah Badu demonstrated her wit when struggling to read the tele-prompter without her glasses during her award presentation to Khan.

Host Wayne Brady comically fawned over Kahn and serenaded her in one of the event’s highlight moments. Kahn, on vocal rest could not perform, but had she been able to take the stage then surely, “Sweet Thing” would have been a song many would have liked to hear. Instead, Blige delivered her rendition and revealed how frightened she was to record it for her debut album, What’s the 411? “It’s a classic and I felt like I was gonna mess it up,” she shared with the audience. “In my own courage and in my own way I did a Mary version and it became a classic for me and my peers. So thanks, Chaka  for keeping us current even with the songs of the past.”

At the reception, Cox shared that she will return to Broadway in 2014 despite the abrupt cancellation of her most recent critically-acclaimed Broadway stint in, Jekyll & Hyde. She is working on new music. “There will be a new album and another Broadway show. I cannot divulge the details right now but I will be in a musical next year. My album will be more R&B/pop like my first album.”

There were more honorees at The LeRoy Neiman Art Center’s second annual fundraiser and art exhibitions. Those being acknowledged for their service included Council Member Inez Dickens, Walter J. Edwards, CEO of Full Spectrum, Londel Davis of Londel’s Restaurant and Muhammad Ali. Miya Ali appeared on behalf of her father and noted her personal connection to LeRoy Neiman. “He [Neiman] exposed me to art and it was about passion. That’s where the value comes in, so that anything I do in my life it’s always about passion,” she says.

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