25th Annual Divas Simply Singing Silver Anniversary Oct. 24, 2015Columnists, Entertainment, Kim's Kronicles — By Kim Webster on November 2, 2015 at 2:29 am
HOLLYWOOD, CA – Divas executive producer/creator/founder Sheryl Lee Ralph was “too hot” in a silver jumpsuit, faux fur jacket, and stylin’ a full Afro; dancing and singing to a Diva version of “Uptown Funk” that included Nina Simone in the lyrics.“Tonight is all about inspiration, outreach and singing,” she said. The Montalban Theater was the venue celebrating this Silver Anniversary of “the longest consecutive running musical AIDS benefit in the country.” Ms. Ralph thanked Jussie Smollett (of EMPIRE fame) who paid for the band to accompany tonight’s performances. She also thanked Wendell James (of Raising Whitley) for his continuous donations and participation. “It’s an honor to be here tonight,” said Erica Campbell who sung a spiritually uplifting song. Angie Fisher’s acapella rendition of “Summertime” showcased her vocals; she closed with her hit “IRS.” Flex Alexander reflected on loosing his brother to AIDS. He and wife Shanice put a little comedy in their performance of “Endless Love” and Shanice performed “Yesterday.” Yolanda “YoYo” Whitaker looked gorgeous stylin’ silky, flowing braids while dancing and rapping a medley of her hits.
Jenifer Lewis did cartwheels, strolled into the audience with her comedic expertise, and sang an inspirational song, leaving the stage admonishing everyone to “take care of yourself.” Margaret Avery (of Being Mary Jane) graced the stage introducing breathtaking Divas Mary Wilson (who performed at the first Divas Simply Singing), Freda Payne and Eloise Laws, performing individually and together in a finale of “Reach Out & Touch Somebody’s Hand.” Rebbie Jackson looked fantastic dancing and singing her hit “Centipede.” “I promise you I will use my voice to let people in Africa know what you are doing,” said Nigerian vocalist/songwriter Waje, who incorporated traditional African dance movements during her vocal performance.
Original “Dreamgirl” Loretta Devine (of Being Mary Jane) dedicated her performance to Tracy Kennedy. Amber Stevens (of The Cleveland Show) performed “HOME” from the play/movie “The Wiz.” Songwriter/producer/arranger/musician Angela Winbush gave a testimonial of surviving stage 4 ovarian cancer when performing “The Power of Love.” She closed with her party hit “I’ll Be Good.”
Meli’sa Morgan politely asked his lady’s permission before passionately serenading a gentleman in the audience singing her hit “Do Me Baby.” “Just Call My Name” and you know it’s Alyson Williams vocally soaring. What a treat to see “one of the most successful dance club artists in history” Ce Ce Peniston. Spoken word performances by SunWhoa and Mary Bowman were outstanding. Also appearing were Beth Payne, Torrei Hart, Manu, Jacquline D Thompson, Ariane Andrew, Ivy “Coco” and Etienne Maurice.
Sheryl Lee Ralph and Verdine White introduced honoree Jordin Sparks who performed a medley of her hits. Respectively honored were: Merck, Supv Mark Ridley-Thomas, Dr. Rachael Ross, MD, Ph.D, Sade Oyinade, Cathy Elliott, HIV/AIDS survivors Hydeia Broadbent, Sherri Lewis, and Mary Bowman. Concert proceeds assist people with HIV/AIDS, promote awareness, prevention, and treatment. For more information please go to www.DivasSimplySinging.com. All photos by Kim Webster.