Tag Archives: Smokey Robinson

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Kennedy Center Honors: Our top 50 recommendations who need to be chosen include Dick Van Dyke, Liza Minnelli, Jessica Lange, Bette Midler

Mister D: Ok, I admit that I’m prejudiced, but this list could be whittled down in seconds for me. My standards are high, well in some things, and some of these people don’t really belong on this list. Gold Derby Kennedy Center Honors: Our top 50 recommendations who need to be chosen include Dick Van Dyke, Liza Minnelli, Jessica Lange, Bette Midler Chris Beachum April 11, 2018 6:00AM The next recipients for the Kennedy Center Honors will be announced in the late summer, often around Labor Day. The all-star event is held each year in the nation’s capital during the first weekend in December and then airs on CBS as a two-hour special after Christmas. Each year, the selection committee chooses five entertainment veterans from a variety of fields – film, television, popular music, theatre, and the fine arts (dance, opera, classical music). Selected artists are almost always over 50 and generally are 60 and beyond. The first recipients in 1978 were singer Marian Anderson, actor and dancer Fred Astaire, choreographer George Balanchine, composer Richard Rodgers and conductor Arthur Rubinstein. The most recent honorees in 2017 for the 40th anniversary program were dancer Carmen de Lavallade, singer Gloria Estefan, singer LL Cool J, producer and writer Norman Lear and singer Lionel Richie. But there are a number of notable performers missing from the honors roll. Our photo gallery features 50 entertainers who deserve to be selected soon. For our purposes a person must be at least 60 years old to be in our gallery. We are not going to include the retired Doris Day and Gene Hackman as well as the reclusive Woody Allen since attendance at the event is mandatory. Tour through our photos and sound off in the forums about who you think should be selected soon. 1. Dick Van Dyke Van Dyke is just an Oscar away from EGOT status. He is a five-time Emmy Award winner for “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Van Dyke and Company,” and “The Wrong Way Kid.” He won a Tony Award for “Bye Bye Birdie” (1961) and a Grammy Award for “Mary Poppins” (1964). Van Dyke is a member of the Television Academy Hall of Fame and received the Screen Actors Guild life achievement award in 2013. 2. Liza Minnelli Minnelli is very close to EGOT, having never won a Grammy Award before. She won a Tony Award for “Flora the Red Menace” (1965), an Oscar for “Cabaret” (1973), and an Emmy for “Liza with a Z” (1973). The daughter of legendary entertainer Judy Garland, other films have included “The Sterile Cuckoo” (1969, her first Oscar nomination), “New York, New York” (1977), and “Arthur” (1981). 3. Denzel Washington Washington is the only African-American with two Academy Awards for acting (“Glory,” 1989; “Training Day,” 2001). His other Oscar nominations were for “Cry Freedom” (1987), “Malcolm X” (1992), “The Hurricane” (1999), “Flight” (2012), “Fences” (2016, producing and acting), and “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” (2017). He also won a Tony Award for the same role in “Fences” (2010). 4. Gladys Knight The “Empress of Soul” started her career in 1952 on Ted Mack’s “Original Amateur Hour” TV show. Her group Gladys Knight and the Pips joined Motown in 1966 and became one of the top recording artists of the 1960s and 1970s with such hits as “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “If I Were Your Woman,” “Neither One of Us,” and “Midnight Train to Georgia.” The six-time Grammy winner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. 5. Mick Jagger Whether he gets selected by himself (like Paul McCartney) or with his group The Rolling Stones (like The Who and Led Zeppelin), this honor is long overdue. The lead singer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with his band in 1989. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003. Their lengthy list of hit singles has included “Satisfaction,” “Get Off My Cloud,” “Ruby Tuesday,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Brown Sugar,” “Wild Horses,” “Angie,” and “Start Me Up.” 6. Jessica Lange Lange is just one notch away from EGOT. She is a two-time Academy Award winner (“Tootsie,” 1982; “Blue Sky,” 1994) among her six nominations. She is a three-time Emmy champ (“Grey Gardens,” 2009; “American Horror Story,” 2012; and “American Horror Story: Coven,” 2014). Lange won a Tony Award in 2016 for “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Other films in her career have included “Frances,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Crimes of the Heart,” “Cape Fear,” and “Big Fish.” 7. Alan Alda Alda has established himself as a triple threat on television, on stage, and in films. He won five Emmy Awards for the legendary comedy series “M*A*S*H” spread out over acting, directing, and writing (the only person to prevail in only three fields). He also took home a sixth Emmy for his role on “The West Wing” and was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1994. He’s been nominated at the Oscars (“The Aviator,”), Grammys (“Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself,” 2008), and three times at the Tony Awards (“The Apple Tree,” 1967; “Jake’s Women,” 1992; “Glengarry Glen Ross,” 2005). 8. Bette Midler Midler was a big hit right out of the gates when she won Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards in 1974. It was the first of three Grammys along with three Emmys for her variety specials and a Tony Award in 2017 for “Hello, Dolly.” That just puts her an Oscar away from EGOT, and she has competed at those awards twice as a leading actress for “The Rose” and “For the Boys.” 9. Harrison Ford Ford is the biggest box office star in American history but still hasn’t had much of an awards career but did receive an Oscar nomination for “Witness” (1985). He was awarded the American Film Institute life achievement in 2000 and the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes in 2002. His film career has included “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Working Girl,” “Regarding Henry,” “Patriot Games,” “The Fugitive,” “Air Force One,” and “42.” 10. Reba McEntire McEntire is a Country Music Hall of Fame member who has been one of the most popular singers and performers in the 1980s and beyond. She has had the most CMA Award nominations (49) and ACM Awards nominations (45) of any female artist. She has won two Grammy Awards for “Whoever’s in New England” (1987) and “Does He Love You?” (1994) among her 12 career nominations. McEntire has had a successful TV show with “Reba” (2001-2007) and was widely acclaimed for her Broadway debut in “Annie Get Your Gun” (2001). 11. Tommy Tune Tune has been one of the top choreographers and dancers in Broadway history. He is a nine-time Tony Award winner for his performances in “Seesaw” and “My One and Only,” for his direction of “Nine,” “Grand Hotel” and “The Will Rogers Follies” and choreography of “A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine,” “My One and Only,” “Grand Hotel” and “The Will Rogers Follies.” 12. Betty White White is one of the favorite comedic performers in TV history and was inducted into the TV Academy Hall of Fame in 1995. She has won five prime-time Emmy Awards for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “The Golden Girls,” “The John Larroquette Show” and “Saturday Night Live” plus a Daytime Emmy for “Just Men.” 13. Burt Bacharach Bacharach has composed hundreds of songs in his lengthy career, many of them popular hits. He is a three-time Oscar winner for his original song and score in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and original song in “Arthur.” He is a two-time Grammy champ for “Cassidy” and “I Still Have That Other Girl” plus an Emmy winner for his 1971 variety special. 14. Diane Keaton Keaton is an Oscar-winning actress (“Annie Hall,” 1977) who has been primarily working in films since the early 1970s. Her career has included “The Godfather,” “Reds,” “Marvin’s Room,” “Baby Boom,” “Father of the Bride,” “The First Wives Club” and “Something’s Gotta Give.” She was the 2017 recipient of the American Film Institute life achievement award. 15. Arturo Sandoval The Cuban-born Sandoval is one of the greatest trumpet players in music history. He defected to America in 1990 while performing with previous KCH recipient Dizzy Gillespie. He is a 10-time Grammy winner, Emmy winner and recipient of the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom. 16. Cynthia Gregory Gregory is one of the most famous American prima ballerinas of recent decades. She first became well known in San Francisco as a teenager before joining the American Ballet Theatre in 1965. She has had roles in “Giselle,”” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Coppelia,” “Don Quixote,” “The Eternal Idol” and “At Midnight.” 17. Bob Newhart Newhart has proven to be one of the most beloved comedians in American history since the early 1960s. In fact he won at the 1961 Grammy Awards as Best New Artist and for Album of the Year. He was inducted into the TV Academy Hall of Fame in 1993 for his roles on “The Bob Newhart Show” and “Newhart.” He won his only Emmy Award in 2013 for a guest role on “The Big Bang Theory.” He was the 2002 recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center. 18. Whoopi Goldberg Goldberg is one of the few people who have achieved EGOT in her entertainment career. She won an Oscar for “Ghost,” a Grammy for her comedy album “Direct From Broadway,” a Tony Award for producing “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and a Daytime Emmy for hosting “The View.” Other film roles have included “The Color Purple,” “Sister Act” and “The Lion King.” She was the 2001 recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center.

19. Jerry Lee Lewis ...  Read More

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

BetteBack July 19, 1995: VH-1 Honors Review

Los Angeles Sentinel July 19, 1995 | James Bingham 2016-03-15_5-58-30 It isn’t unusual to have an awards show, and perhaps we have more than we need, but when the awards show honors the best in human characteristics, there are never enough, because those people serving a higher purpose are numerous. VH-1 Honors honors, opposed to talent, although these celebrants have that to spare, and acting and music programs pervading the world view. But pervading throughout this program was hope. Hope that the older generation would responsibly make it easier for several different maladies common to our world. For the second year, VH-1 has honored six remarkable artists who haven given to charities and their communities. Before the show started, to two hosts, Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Rudrow, got the audience relaxed with their funny and witty humor. The show started with Smokey Robinson opening, singing one of his first recordings, “Shop Around.” Then came Whitney Houston singing “My Guy.” Vince Gill was next with “My Girl,” which was followed immediately by the duet singing “The Way You do The Things You Do.” The show continued when Wynona Judd and Smokey Robinson did the duet, “You Really Got A Hold On Me.” Smokey Robinson ended the medley of songs he wrote with “Get Ready,” which said it all. Get ready for the award presentations. Forrest Whitaker gave Whitney Houston her VH-1 Award for her work with “The Whitney Houston Foundation For Children, Inc.” Her mother Cissy Houston is president of the organization. After receiving the prestigious honor, she sang a duet with CeCe Winan, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” with so much soul you could feel it in your toes. They received a standing ovation. From the movie “Panther,” Kadeem Hardison gave Boyz II Men their award for their “Big Brother/Big Sister of America” charity in Philadelphia. They came on from back stage singing “And I thank You” a cappella. Chris Isaac gave Annie Lennox her VH-1 Award for her work with “Rokpa, Trust Samye Ling Tibetan Center,” and with award in hand, she sang “Whiter Shade of Pale.” James Garner introduced the governor of Oklahoma, who awarded Vince Gill his VH-1 Award for his work with “Oklahoma City Victims and Families Relief Fund.” He sang a duet with Mary Chapin Carpenter, “If I Had My Way.” John Singleton gave Smokey his VH-1 Award for work with the United Negro College Fund. John remembered his father playing Smokey and the Miracles songs. Then Smokey sand “I Would Do Any Thing (Just To See You Again).” Then he sang a duet with Annie Lennox, “Tracks Of My Tears,” to a standing ovation. Morgan Freeman gave The King of Pop Michael Jackson his VH-1 Special Award for his “Heal The World Foundation. Boyz II Men sang “We Are the World.” Michael came out of a round hole in the middle of the stage and sang the ending with them, also to a standing ovation. Sandra Bernheart introduced The Red Hot Organization and LP which raised six million dollars. Mary Chapin Carpenter and Katlin Mataa sang from the “Red, Hot and Country” LP. Herbie Hancock, “Wawa” Watson and Ron Carter played “Every Time We Say Goodbye” from “Red, Hot and Cool.” Michael Rickerson (Kramer from “Seinfield”) gave a VH-1 Award to Bette Midler for the work with Manhattan Restoration Project. She sang “If I Could Be Your Angel.” Then she proceeded to duet with Wynona Judd on “Let It Be Me” to a standing ovation. There was the appropriate songs by artists and a wide variety of cultures and creeds represented on this awards program. There was even an invitation-only after-party held adjacent to the Shrine Auditorium with plenty of free drinks, food, fun and a host of celebrities and guests. Charities help everyone. Almost all of us have been the beneficiary of them in one form or another or know somebody who has. We celebrate one of the most noble of awards shows, who don’t just honor one significant individual for humanitarian efforts, but this awards program offered an entire program to do this honoring, yet being entertaining as any one of the other awards show on grand or small scales.
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Sunday, August 16, 2015

BetteBack February 21, 1991: From A Distance Wins Song Of The Year At The Grammys

Syracuse Herald Journal February 21, 1991 hqdefault NEW YORK – Topping a slate of music legends and sentimental favorites honored Wednesday night at Radio City Music Hall, Quincy Jones and his album “Back on the Block” look eight Grammys, including best album. “From a Distance,” a timely plea for peace sung by Bette Midler, was named Song of the Year, the first Grammy for songwriter Julie Gold. Mariah Carey, nominated in five top categories, won Best New Artist and Pop Vocal Female for “Vision of Love.” Rapper M.C. Hammer took home awards for best rap solo performance and Best R&B Song, both for “U Can’t Touch This,” as well as long video. JONES SPENT most of the past two decades producing albums for other artists. But Wednesday night, songs from Jones’ comeback album, “Back on the Block” snagged awards in rap performance, jazz fusion and instrumental arrangement, among others. “When you make a record you have to dig down deep inside you to make something you would like to hear yourself,” Jones said “The music reflects a path I’ve been on for a long time.” Jones added he hopes he never gets jaded by winning. “I’ve won 25 Grammys but I’ve lost 51 times, and I know what it’s like to lose seven times in a night.” Phil Collins came within a hair of knowing that feeling. Nominated in eight categories, Collins faced a shutout until “Another Day in Paradise” won Record of the Year, the night’s final category. A relieved Collins joked: “If I had lost eight Grammys. my mother would have killed me.” LUTHER VANDROSS tucked away his first Grammy, for Best Male R&B Performance on “Here and Now.” Best Male Pop Vocal went to the late Roy Orbison for “Oh Pretty Woman.” His wife accepted the award, reminding the crowd that Orbison’s first Grammy exposure was as a nominee in 1964 — for “Oh Pretty Woman.” Eric Clapton’s “Bad Love” was named Best Male Rock Performance. In a surprise, Alannah Myles’ “Black Velvet” took best rock female. Harry Connick, Jr.‘s smooth piano jazz stylmgs earned him top honors for Male Jazz Vocal. Sinead O’Connor sold 2 million albums and snubbed the show for its commercial bent, yet took her first Grammy as Best Alternative Music Performer for her album, “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.” JIMMY VAUGHAN’S awards for best rock instrumental and contemporary blues recording were both bittersweet accolades. Vaughan accepted both in memory •of his brother, Stevie Ray Vaughan, who was killed in a helicopter crash earlier this year. Other sentimental honors: best gospel choir album, awarded to the Rev. James Cleveland, felled by a fatal heart attack two weeks ago; and the late classical composer Leonard Bernstein, a double winner. B.B. King’s “Live at San Quentin” album won best traditional blues recording, an honor he didn’t expect. Said King: “I’m glad my heart is still pumping pretty good.” The collected work of blues pioneer Robert Johnson was awarded best historical performance, while George Burns became the oldest living Grammy winner at 95 with his award for best spoken word recording, “Gracie: A Love Story.” Kathy Mattea won best female country vocal performance for “Where’ve You Been,” which also picked up a writing award for best country song.
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Broadway Keeps It Real

New York Post Keepin’ it real Broadway rips it’s stories straight from the headlines and bigger-than-life-characters By BABARA HOFFMAN Last Updated: 1:12 AM, March 27, 2013 tn-500_bettemidlerwm1300018 For an industry that famously celebrates dreams, broken or fulfilled, Broadway is getting thrillingly real this spring. Hot on the high heels of “Ann” and the hubcaps of “Hands on a Hardbody” — about, respectively, the late governor of Texas andabunch of hard-pressed Lone Star Staters vying for a truck — come a slewof shows about real people: Motown singers, a Hollywood superagent, a newspaper columnist. And, in the case of Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper’s “Kinky Boots” (opening April 4), the owner of a failing shoe factory who gets a lift from a drag queen. What gives? “There’s something that thrills us about seeing our history onstage,” says playwright Douglas Carter Beane. “Even Shakespeare wrote history plays!” Beane’s new play, “The Nance,” opening April 15 at the Lyceum, sets a fictitious character in a real-life situation. Nathan Lane stars as a gay man who works in burlesque as a “nance” — a kind of homosexual blackface — at a time when Mayor Fiorello La Guardia was shutting down burlesque houses to combat the “deviancy” of gay visibility. “La Guardia was a fantastic man,” Beane concludes, “but even a politician you love can do something reprehensible.” Another larger-than-life character — brassy Hollywood talent agent Sue Mengers — will be reincarnated in “I’ll Eat You Last.” Starting previews April 5 at the Booth, it’s a one-woman show starring the larger-than-life Bette Midler. John Logan — the Tony winning writer of “Red,” about artist Mark Rothko — met Mengers in 2007, and was fascinated by her. Little wonder: After Sharon Tate was murdered by the Manson family, Mengers reportedly assured one of her clients, “Don’t worry, honey — stars aren’t being murdered, only featured players.” To research “I’ll Eat You Last,”Logan says, “I read everything I could and interviewed scores of her clients, colleagues and friends and enemies, famous and nonfamous, pro-Sue and anti-Sue.”And? “They echoed my own response to her: a woman much more complicated than she first appears.” He and director Joe Mantello spent a lot of time with Midler, discussing how best to tell Mengers’ story, and “Bette jumped in courageously.” “I may get fewer invitations to Hollywood parties after the play comes out,” adds Logan, who grew up in California and New Jersey, “but that’s not my natural turf anyway.” Maura Tierney is well aware that the woman she portrays is just an LIRR ride away: Alice McAlary, widow of former Post columnist Mike McAlary, whom Tom Hanks plays — with a sandy mustache — in Nora Ephron’s “Lucky Guy,” opening Monday at the Broadhurst. Tierney says director George C. Wolfe discouraged the women from getting together until rehearsals were well under way. “George wanted us to figure out the characters on our own,” says the former “ER” star, “but I just wanted to meet her. We had breakfast and chatted, and I asked if Mike had any pet names for her. He did. He called her ‘Ali Baba.’ ” That phrase is now in the play and, Tierney says, “I really want Alice to like it. I want her to be happy. She’s very smart and really gracious!” Charl Brown feels the same way about Smokey Robinson, whom he plays in “Motown,” opening April 14 at the Lunt-Fontanne. Brown, who’s in his early 30s, says he first saw Robinson on “Sesame Street.” “Smokey sang ‘You Really Got a Hold on Me’ with the letter U,” he says. “It was one of my first memories!” Though the “Motown” cast was encouraged to research their roles, he says, they’re not interested in impersonating Robinson, Berry Gordy, Diana Ross and other greats, because “it is theater and we need to bring our own sensibilities into it, as well.” Even so, Brown says he panicked one night when he heard the real Smokey was in the house. Afterward, he went into the audience — and Robinson greeted him with a hug. “It was a great experience,” Brown says. Even better is the chance to feel like a legend, if only for a while. “It’s definitely making me smoother,” Brown says. “We had our first preview the other night, and the crowd went up at the very mention of his name. “That’s a good perk. I get topretend to be him and have his audience for a couple of hours every night!”
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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Things Heard At The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

Public Enemy’s Chuck D took pleasure in introducing a couple of the ceremony’s attendees to each other. “I introduced Rick Rubin to Bette Midler – wasn’t that something? I was amazed, because I’m a collector of things. Bette Midler did a fantastic narration on the story of Ahmet Ertegun, ‘The House That Ahmet Built.’ And I told Bette, I said, ‘It’s a pleasure meeting you, cause this (Rubin) is my Ahmet right here, so when his story comes out, hopefully I can do a voice over that’s just as good as yours.’ So she was touched. ” Another great encounter: “Carole King was touched because her daughter was like, ‘Wow, Chuck D.‘ But I’m saying, ‘Do you understand? Your mother and Smokey Robinson, feet apart?’ As a songwriter, trust me, trust me, I was in heaven. So I tweeted my ass off.”
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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Terron Brooks and Kamilah Marshall Rock The Coterie in their annual holiday music extravaganza Holidaze Harmony

Broadway World Terron Brooks & Kamilah Marshall Rock The Coterie With HOLIDAZE HARMONY by BWW News Desk The Coterie is set to present Broadway stars and recording artists Terron Brooks and Kamilah Marshall in their annual holiday music extravaganza Holidaze Harmony. The Black Donny and Marie are back again with a holiday show that is sure to leave you in the Spirit! Terron Brooks (NBC mini-series “The Temptations”, Broadway’s The Lion King) and Kamilah Marshall (Bette Midler Harlette, Broadway’s Hairspray) come together for the fourth year in a row to sing all your favorite holiday songs with a twist. Fun for Everyone! Holidaze Harmony will take place Wednesda, December 14 in The Coterie’s home at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa. About the Artists Terron Brooks and Kamilah Marshall have been performing together for a little over 20 years. This is their fourth year doing Holidaze Harmony as well as working together on Broadway in Disney’s The Lion King. Most recently, they spent this past summer touring with Matthew Morrison, star of TV’s “Glee”. Born and raised in Southern California, Terron Brooks has been singing since the age of six. He has sung with many artists including Stephanie Mills, Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson, and has performed throughout the US and Europe. He was also a member of the doo-wop group The Alley Cats. On Broadway, Brooks performed the role of “Simba” in Disney’s The Lion King and “Seaweed” in Hairspray. His vocals have been featured on numerous film and TV soundtrack albums including “Tears from the Sun”, “The Adventures of Brer Rabbit”, and ABC’s “Gepetto”. Brooks starred in the romantic comedy All About You with “One Life To Live” actors Renee Elise Goldsberry and Debbie Allen, co-wrote its theme song, and contributed vocals to the soundtrack, which was produced by “American Idol” musical director, Rickey Minor. As an actor, Brooks is a two-time NAACP Award nominee for supporting actor and is best remembered for his critically acclaimed portrayal of “Eddie Kendricks” in the Emmy Award-winning NBC mini-series “The Temptations”. Brooks has a wide fan base that extends from the US to Africa, Germany, Japan, and England. The Los Angeles Times has described his voice as “smooth and soulful.” In 2006, Brooks inked a deal with GoDigital Records for exclusive worldwide digital distribution. He has produced 3 albums: “Prelude”, “Alive”, “Overture”, and is currently working on his fourth album. Kamilah Marshall just finished touring this summer supporting “Glee” star Matthew Morrison. Theatre Credits include Broadway: The Original Broadway Cast of Hairspray (Dynamite), RENT (Joanne) and Disney’s The Lion King at The Pantages Theatre. Marhsall has backed up Bette Midler as a Staggering Harlette on tours of The U.S. and Australia as well as a two-year run at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Marshall can be heard on the soundtrack of “Sex and the City 2”. Her debut solo album, “Gypsy Moonshine” is available on iTunes. www.kamilahmarshall.com Holidaze Harmony takes place December 14th, 2011 at 8:00pm in The Coterie at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa. The venue is located on the mezzanine level inside “Twist” Restaurant. Doors will open at 7pm for dinner. Advanced tickets are $15 and may be purchased in advance at www.thecoteriela.com. Children’s tickets are available for $10 in advance. $20 adult/$15 child tickets (cash or credit) will be available at the door 1 hour prior to showtime. $5 standing room only (SRO) is also available at the bar (Must best 21+) in advance or for $10 at the door. While enjoying the music, guests are encouraged to try the delicious appetizers, entrees, desserts, and handcrafted signature cocktails. A two item minimum, per person will apply for admission into the venue. For more information or special seating requests, please call (530) 4-COTERIE.
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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Aretha Franklin: A Divine Birthday

Associated Press Franklin dances, sings at 69th birthday party (AP) – 3 hours ago NEW YORK (AP) — Aretha Franklin proved her voice is still divine at 69 as she gave a brief but rousing performance at a swank birthday party in her honor. Tony Bennett, Smokey Robinson, music mogul Clive Davis, Bette Midler and Gayle King were among the celebrities on hand to pay tribute to the Queen of Soul on Friday night at a late-night birthday party at a Central Park Hotel. “It’s a fabulous moment,” said Franklin, showing off her noticeably thinner frame in a flowing white and gold gown as she sat at a table with several gifts. Bennett, who called Franklin “one of a kind” was one of those who came with a present — and his was unique. “I also paint, so she knows about that,” he said. “A long time ago, she said, ‘I’d love to have you do a painting of me,’ and I remembered that, and when I heard I was coming here, I just knocked off a quick sketch tonight and gave it to her tonight.” More than 100 friends and family gathered to celebrate Franklin, who just a few months ago underwent surgery for an ailment she has declined to disclose. In recent weeks, she’s made more public appearances and is set to resume her stage performances in May. At the party, Franklin seemed full of energy, greeting guests and dancing to the music. Franklin wasn’t billed as the evening’s entertainment. Instead, she had other acclaimed musicians on hand to perform for her: jazz musician Roy Ayers, singer Nnenna Freelon, and Tito Puente Jr. all gave mini-concerts at the soiree. But after former Temptations frontman Dennis Edwards serenaded her with a couple of riveting songs, she joined him and they both sang “The Way We Were.” Afterward, Edwards and the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to Franklin, and she cut her birthday cake. The Detroit native planned to stay in New York for at least a day more, but don’t expect much more celebrating for Franklin. “I will be in a horizontal position tomorrow, all day!” she said.
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