Written by | Ray Cornelius
Atlanta’s premiere jazz station, WCLK 91.9 celebrated Black Music Month on Friday evening with its annual Spring Fundraising Concert at the beautiful Cobb Energy Centre. This year’s show featured a trio of hit makers including South African guitarist Jonathan Butler along with Grammy winning-vocalist Regina Belle and R&B legend Peabo Bryson. The event was hosted by WCLK’s radio personalities Morris Baxter, Debb Moore, Jamal Ahmad and RivaBlue.
Butler opened the show with a one-hour set that left the nearly sold-out crowd begging for more. His eclectic mix of jazz, praise and worship and South African melodies were the perfect start to a night of stand out performances. His moving renditions of Bob Marley‘s “No Woman No Cry” and the praise and worship song, “Falling In Love with Jesus,” was received with numerous hand waves, shouts of ‘amen’ and tears.
WCLK’s Wendy Williams (center) with honorees Pat Lottier (l) and Eufaula Garrett (r)
Following Butler’s set was WCLK’s Jazz Legacy Awards ceremony. Each year, the station pays tribute to individuals, businesses and organizations that have helped it sustain the legacy of jazz. This year’s recipients included Butler, who picked up the coveted Jazz Legend Award, Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine‘s Publisher Pat Lottier, who received the Corporate Partner Award and Eufala Garrett of the Eufaula Garrett Charitable Gift Fund, who walked away with the Community Engagement Award.
After a brief intermission, R&B songstress Regina Belle opened the second half with a show-stopping medley of hits including her remake of the Phyllis Hyman classic, “You Know How to Love Me,” “Make it Like it Was,” and “Baby Come to Me.” Belle has been performing for nearly 30 years and recently celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary to former NBA player turned minister John Battle. She finished her 20-minute set with the uplifting tune, “If I Could.”
Closing out the evening was two-time Grammy winning singer-songwriter Peabo Bryson. Celebrating 40 years in the entertainment industry, Bryson took Friday’s audience down “memory lane” with such iconic hits as “If Ever You’re In My Arms Again,” “Show and Tell,” “Tonight I Celebrate My Love,” “I’m So Into You” and “Can You Stop the Rain.” He also did covers of Sade‘s “King of Sorrow” and Chaka Khan‘s “Ain’t Nobody.” He was later joined by Belle to perform their Grammy winning duet, “A Whole New World” from Disney’s “Aladdin.”
Regina Belle and Peabo Bryson
The evening ended with a private meet-and-greet featuring Belle and Bryson along with passed hors d’oeuvres, wine and a variety of desserts. Check out more photos below including exclusive backstage photos of Belle, Butler and Bryson along with WCLK staff, board members and radio personalities.
Wendy Williams, Jonathan Butler, Pat Lottier and Sheryl Sellaway
WCLK’s Debb Moore with Jonathan Butler
Jonathan Butler and Regina Belle
WCLK Board Members Terry ‘TK’ Keels, Sheryl Sellaway and Craig Garrett
WCLK’s RivaBlue with Regina Belle
WCLK’s Mark Angel (l) and Jamal Ahmad (r) with Peabo Bryson
Peabo BrysonRegina Belle and Peabo Bryson singing “A Whole New World”
Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com