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Quincy Jones gets Hands and Feet Immortalized at Chinese Theatre [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Music icon Quincy Jones made history Tuesday (November 27) by becoming the first composer to have his hands and feet enshrined at the world famous TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, CA.

The 85-year-old legend was joined by his daughter Rashida Jones and a few of his close friends—Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Usher.

“Man…THIS is what you call family!! I can’t believe they all got up so early for me! ((:0))…Anyway, today was TRULY a special day, because I had the incredible honor of becoming the 1st composer to have his or her hand & footprints enshrined at The Chinese Theatre,” said Jones on his Instagram page.

Jones will be recognized for his illustrious career next Sunday, December 9 during a BET program titled Q85: A Musical Celebration for Quincy Jones. The all-star salute will feature performances from Stevie Wonder, Brian McKnight, Meghan Trainor, John Legend, Patti Austin, Gloria Estefan, Charlie Wilson, Ledisi, Gregory Porter, Gladys Knight, and others. It is also hosted by media maven and close friend—Oprah Winfrey.

Jones is also the subject a new documentary titled QUINCY,   which chronicles his rise to fame as a musical genius, composer, producer, arranger, record label manager and pop culture icon.

Q85: A Musical Celebration for Quincy Jones airs 12/9 at 8 p.m. on BET.

Photo Credits: Instagram/Quincy Jones

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#UPFRONT featuring Nadej Bailey, Lil Dee Dee, Neko Parham & Lil’ John Roberts

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

Don’t forget to check out this week’s edition of “UPFRONT” Inside Atlanta’s Entertainment Industry. I got a chance to chat with child stars Nadej Bailey and Lil Dee Dee and their acting coach + accomplish TV and film actor Neko Parham.

#UPFRONT continues to celebrate Black Music Month with drummer extraordinaire Lil’ John Roberts. He opens up about his amazing career and working with such musical icons as Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, George Duke, Yolanda Adams and many more.

Ray Cornelius with Nadej Bailey, Neko Parham and Lil Dee Dee

#UPFRONT Inside Atlanta Entertainment Industry is 30-minute radio magazine that features one-on-one interviews with all of the major players and behind-the-scenes superstars that make Atlanta the “Entertainment Capital of the South.” It airs every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. on Jazz 91.9 WCLK and his hosted by yours truly, Ray Cornelius.

Click here to check out past shows and see more pics below:

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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ASCAP to honor Stevie Wonder during ‘I Create Music’ Expo

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

CONGRATS to Motown legend Stevie Wonder!

The 25-time Grammy winning singer-songwriter will be accepting ASCAP’s inaugural “Key of Life”  Award in L.A. next week during the “I Create Music” Expo. The event is taking place April 13-15 and Wonder is slated to appear as part of the keynote session.

According to the press release, The “Key of Life” Award celebrates Wonder’s incomparable, peerless contributions to the world through his music. In the future, the honor will be presented to songwriters and composers who best exemplify his legacy through their commitment to the art form he elevated through his talent, dedication and unparalleled heart.

“Stevie has deservedly been given every award imaginable,” said ASCAP President Paul Williams. “Yet he continues to innovate and elevate the art of songwriting to the point where no honor can truly capture what he means to his creative kin at ASCAP, and to songwriters and music lovers worldwide. This award has been created as a way to honor his singularly inspirational songwriting career and to recognize his spirit in generations to come.”

Other musicians and songwriters scheduled to appear include Aloe Blacc, Desmond Child, Darrell Brown, Brian Kennedy, Malik Yusef and more.

Click here for more information and congrats once again!

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“Take the Stage” to air on 1/12 at 9 p.m. EST on ABC

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Common, Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Fantasia, Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith and Angela Bassett are just a few of the big names who will appear on this week’s ABC telecast of “Taking the Stage: African American Music and Stories That Changed America.” It airs on Thursday, January 12 beginning at 9 p.m. EST.

The two-hour program, presented by The Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture, will spotlight the contributions African-Americans have made to the global landscape and will focus on music, dance and spoken word. The show will also feature film footage of iconic items from the museum’s collections – items ranging from a plane used to train the famed Tuskegee airmen for World War II combat duty, to a bible owned by Nat Turner.

Other celebrities participating include Dave Chappelle, Chuck D., Doug E. Fresh, Savion Glover, Tom Hanks, Samuel L. Jackson, Rashida Jones, Elijah Kelley, Janelle Monáe, Octavia Spencer, Chris Tucker, Jesse Williams, Patti Austin, Christina Aguilera, Alvin Ailey dancers, Jon Batiste, Shirley Caesar, Chloe x Halle, Gary Clark Jr., Cynthia Erivo, Jamie Foxx, Robert Glasper, Dave Grohl with Trouble Funk, Herbie Hancock, Gladys Knight, John Legend, Mary J. Blige, Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin, NeYo and Usher.

The special was filmed on September 23 at Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.

Will you be watching?

Photo Credit: RayCornelius.com

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TAKE A LOOK~ ‘Black America Again’ Common ft. Stevie Wonder (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Oscar winning-hip hop star and celebrated actor Common has teamed up with music legend Stevie Wonder for a new anthem titled “Black America Again.” A two-minute clip of the video was released on Thursday and addresses the recent deaths of Eric Garner and other African-American men who have been violently killed by police officers. The song is reportedly the title single from Common’s upcoming album of the same name.

“Black America Again” was produced by Karriem Riggins and Robert Glasper. It also features Grammy winning-jazz vocalist Esperanza Spalding on bass, Scratches by J Rock, Strings by Patrick Warren and ad libs Chuck D and MC Lyte.

Take a look below and tell us what you think.

Photo Credit: BET.com

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#QueenofFunk Chaka Khan plays ATL’s Cobb Energy Centre [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

“Thank you for your prayers and your loving wishes” is what Grammy winning-music legend Chaka Khan said to the nearly sold out crowd Friday night at Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Centre. The reigning “Queen of Funk” performed a powerful 75-minute set of her biggest hits after spending much of last month in a rehab facility.

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If you recall, Khan and her sister Yvonne Stevens aka Taka Boom turned themselves into an intensive rehabilitation and aftercare program due to their addiction to prescription drugs. The sisters were reportedly addicted to the same drugs that killed friend and fellow singer-songwriter Prince.

Khan opened the show with “Do You Like What You Feel?”and then segued into her 80’s hip hop classic, “I Feel For You.” After a thunderous applause, she shimmied her way into the Gold certified hit record, “What Cha’ Gonna Do for Me,” which actually turned 35-years-old this past April.

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Khan, who has starred on Broadway and featured on numerous film soundtracks, appeared to be in good spirits and felt right at home in the 2,800 seat auditorium. “It’s good to be back in Atlanta. It’s been a minute, huh?”

Other songs performed throughout the night included the Rufus classic “Everlasting Love,” “Love Me Still” and then a medley of “Stay” and “Sweet Thang,” which brought the crowd to its feet. She then stepped away for a costume change and her band and trio of background singers performed a powerful version of her signature ballad, “Through the Fire.”

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Khan returned about 20-minutes later wearing a sparkling black and gold ensemble and performed “My Funny Valentine” which appeared on the hugely popular 1995 “Waiting to Exhale” soundtrack. Following that was the funk hit that Stevie Wonder wrote for her titled “Tell Me Something Good.” She closed with her female disco anthem, “I’m Every Woman,” in which she asked all of the ladies in the audience to stand.

At the end of the show, Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall presented Khan with a proclamation from the City of Atlanta declaring August 5th Chaka Khan Day!

A special shoutout to my friend and singer Cleveland P. Jones, who opened the show with Nick Rosen. Also, a BIG THANKS to Craig Garrett and Next Level Events for invite.

Check out more photos below:

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Chaka Khan T-Shirts were sold in the lobby of the Cobb Energy Centre

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Jazz 91.9 WCLK’s Jamal Ahmad hosted the show

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Cleveland P. Jones along with Nick Rosen opened for Chaka Khan

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Chaka Khan was the lead singer for the 70’s funk band Rufus 

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Chaka Khan is also an actress and has appeared on BroadwayIMG_2258

Chaka Khan is a 10-time Grammy winning-singer

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Chaka Khan is known around the world as the ‘Queen of Funk’

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Chaka Khan cooling off with her signature fan

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Chaka Khan with Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall 

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 Khan on stage with Jamal Ahmad, Craig M.Garrett and Kwanza Hall IMG_2347

Kwanza Hall presenting Khan with a proclamation from the City of Atlanta

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Chaka Khan was totally surprised about the proclamation

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August 5 is officially “CHAKA KHAN DAY” in the City of Atlanta

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Until the next time…

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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Mike Phillips salutes Prince, AKA’s and more at WCLK’s Wednesday Wind Down [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Hidden Beach Recording artist Mike Phillips performed last night in Atlanta as part of the city’s famed Wednesday WindDown Summer Concert Series. The saxophonist was there on behalf of Jazz 91.9 WCLK, Atlanta’s jazz station and wore pink in honor of the AKA’s 67th Boule.

Wednesday WindDown is a free music series the takes place every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in historic Centennial Olympic Park. It is sponsored by various radio stations and takes place April through September.

Phillips is a world renowned jazz artist that has played everywhere from The White House to the Montreux Jazz Festival. He is best known for his work on Hidden Beach’s hugely popular “UnWrapped Series,” where contemporary jazz musicians play instrumental versions of rap/hip-hop hits.

Phillips is also the only musician in the world to record and perform with R&B’s “Big Three”—Michael Jackson, Prince and Stevie Wonder. He dedicated his show to them and their influence over his musical career.  Wednesday WindDown was hosted by WCLK announcers Morris Baxter and Debb Moore.

Check out a few images I captured below:

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Morris Baxter is the host of WCLK’s “Morning Jazz”

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WCLK’s Mark Angel had the crowd moving to old school R&B and Funk

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WCLK’s Debb Moore is the host of “Serenade to the City” and “Sunday Jazz Suite”

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Moore encouraging the audience to register to vote in the upcoming elections

AND NOW…Mike Phillips!!

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Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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‘Motown The Musical’ returns to Broadway for 18-week engagement (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Congratulations to Broadway actors Chester Gregory and Allison Semmes. The dynamic duo will play the leads in the summer return of “Motown The Musical.” Gregory will play the company’s founder Berry Gordy while Semmes will play the “Queen of Motown” Diana Ross beginning this Tuesday, July 12 at the Nederlander Theatre in New York City.

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Berry Gordy and Chester Gregory (Photo Credit: Monica Simoes)

“Motown The Musical” tells the true story behind the beat that changed minds, touched lives and made history. Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations — MOTOWN THE MUSICAL shows how these legendary artists and so many more created the soundtrack that transformed America. The show also includes over 40 classic songs including “My Girl,” “What’s Going On,” “Dancing in the Street,” “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

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Allison Semmes as Diana Ross & The Supremes (Photo Credit; TheFabEmpire.com)

I had a chance to see the show at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre last August and was blown away by Semmes portrayal of Ross. Her rendition of the classic anthem “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand” is one of the show’s highlights because she actually leaves the stage and comes into the audience like Ross did back in the day.

“Aside from being a wonderful friend, she [Allison Semmes] is an incredible talent in multiple disciplines,” says Gregory about Semmes to Broadway Direct. “I get a chance to play with her and share the stage, and we get a chance to share our chemistry with the audience every single night.”

“There was also a kind of mutual talent crush that was happening there. I’m such a fan of his [Chester Gregory] work, and he tells me the same. There’s definitely a respect in our work as well,” says Semmes about Gregory.

Click here to purchase tickets and check out a “Motown The Musical” trailer below:

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Sneak Peek of Spike Lee’s Michael Jackson Doc ‘Off the Wall’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Check out a sneak peek of Spike Lee‘s new Showtime documentary on the King of Pop titled “Michael Jackson’s Journey From Motown to Off the Wall.” The film examines his rise to stardom as the little lead singer of The Jackson Five to his successful transition as a solo pop superstar.

“Off the Wall” was actually Jackson’s fifth solo project and the first release under his new label Epic Records. It features such classic hits as “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough,” “Working Day and Night,” “Rock With You” and of course the title track “Off the Wall.” Other stand out singles include “She’s Out of My Life” and my personal favorite “I Can’t Help It.” The album was produced by the legendary Quincy Jones, who became close friend’s with Jackson when he performed alongside Diana Ross in the 1978 movie version of “The Wiz.” “Off the Wall” is certified eight times platinum in the United States and has reportedly sold more than 20 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best selling albums of all time.

Celebrity appearances include Suzanne de Passe, Berry Gordy, Marlon Jackson, Jermaine Jackson, Tito Jackson, LaToya Jackson, Lee Daniels, Kobe Bryant, Misty Copeland, Pharrell Williams, Stevie Wonder, QuestLove Smokey Robinson, Randy Jackson, Gladys Knight, Patti Austin, The Weekend, John Legend, and Joe and Catherine Jackson.

Take a look below:

https://youtu.be/F54kIhEQ7p0

“Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall” airs Fri. Feb. 5th at 9 p.m. EST

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Photo Credit: Fanpop.com
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Stevie Wonder adds more dates to his ‘Songs in the Key…’ Concert Tour

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Fans of Motown legend, Stevie Wonder may have one more chance to see their music idol on his current, “Song In the Key of Life” Tour. The Grammy winning singer-songwriter announced Monday that he was adding more dates to the tour which began in 2014.  New stops include Chicago, Charlotte, San Antonio, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Buffalo and Washington D.C.

I had an opportunity to see the show when it stopped in Atlanta last November and it was unforgettable to say the least. It was my first time seeing Wonder in action and featured appearances by a number of Atlanta based artists including India.Arie, Janelle Monae, Algebra Blessett, Ryan Kilgore, Lil John Roberts and more. Check out all of the extended dates below:

Sept. 30: Montreal, Bell Centre
Oct. 3: Washington, D.C., Verizon Center
Oct. 7: Philadelphia, Penn. Wells Fargo Center
Oct. 9: Toronto, Air Canada Centre
Oct. 11: Hartford, Conn. XL Center
Oct. 14: Newark, N.J., Prudential Center
Oct. 16: Chicago, Ill., United Center
Oct. 18: Pittsburgh, Penn., Consol Energy Center
Oct. 23: Kansas City, MO, Spring Center
Oct. 25: St Louis, MO, Scottrade Center
Oct. 31: San Antonio, Tex., AT&T Center
Nov. 3: Oklahoma City, Chesapeake Energy Arena
Nov. 5: Little Rock, Ark., Verizon Arena
Nov. 7: Indianapolis, Ind.. Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Nov. 10: Knoxville, Tenn., Thompson-Boling Arena
Nov. 14: Charlotte, N.C., Time Warner Cable Arena
Nov. 17: Charlottesville VA., John Paul Jones Arena
Nov. 19: Buffalo, N.Y., First Niagara Center
Nov. 21: Detroit, Mich., Joe Louis Arena
Nov. 24: New York City, Madison Square Garden

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Photo Credit: Moses Robinson/Linx Images

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Beyoncé, Common, Mary J. Blige, Kanye & Rihanna to perform at TONIGHT’S Grammys

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

The biggest night in music is turning out to be one of the biggest nights of collaborations. Tonight’s Grammy Awards’ performance roster includes a bevy of all-star duets including Rihanna and Kanye West with Beatles legend, Paul McCartney. The reigning Queen of R&B-Hip-hop-Soul, Mary J. Blige is teaming up with the reigning King of British Soul, Sam SmithVoice  co-stars Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani are sure to set the stage on fiyah as well as Tom Jones with Jessie J and Hozier with former Eurythmics’ front woman, Annie Lennox.

Jazz legend Tony Bennett is performing with his current muse, Lady Gaga while music icon, Herbie Hancock will share the stage with John Mayer, Questlove and Ed Sheeren.  The pairing that has a lot of folks talking already is Beyoncé with Common and John Legend for a tribute to the Oscar nominated film, “Selma.”  Reportedly, Bey will be singing the Mahalia Jackson classic,“Precious Lord” which was originally performed in the movie by Grammy-nominee, Ledisi.  I’m sure social media will be off the chain during this portion of the show since many of Ledisi’s fans feel that she is being snubbed.

Also look for Grammy nominees Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus, and Taylor Swift to present awards tonight as well as a much deserved tribute to Motown legend, Stevie Wonder, who picks up the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tonight’s show airs on CBS beginning at 8 p.m. and is once again hosted by LL Cool J.

Click here  to see the full list of presenters and performers.

Photo Credit: hitmusicacademy.wordpress.com

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Wonder to produce ‘Underground Railroad’ Miniseries + Score Broadway Show

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Motown legend Stevie Wonder is currently in talks with NBC to executive produce a new mini-series based on the Betty DeRamus book, “Forbidden Fruit: Love Stories from the Underground Railroad.” The 8-hour program is titled, “Freedom Run,” and will focus on real stories from three different relationships.

Indie Wire reports that “Forbidden Fruit: Love Stories From the Underground Railroad” depicts one of the greatest mass escapes in recorded history through a collection of gritty, largely untold true love stories about ordinary men and women, slave and free, black and white, who risked everything to be together, fighting for love in a time of hate. Their astounding escapes simultaneously contributed to, characterized and helped create what would come to be known as the Underground Railroad, a heroic rebellion of epic proportions.”

“Motown: The Musical” writer, Charles Randolph-Wright along with B. Swibel and Adam Westbrook will serve as writers while Tara Smith and Brian LaRoda will executive produce.  There is also talk of turning the stories from the book into a Broadway show as well with Wonder possibly scoring the music.

In other related Stevie Wonder news, the 25-time Grammy winner will receive an all-star tribute at this year’s award show on February 8.  The Huffington Post reports that Usher, Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Willie Nelson have been tapped to perform. Singing siren, Janelle Monae and Ed Sheeran will also honor Wonder at the “Songs in the Key of Life – Grammy Salute” on Feb. 10. This concert will be recorded and aired as a separate television special on Feb. 16.

Stay tuned…

Photo Credit: Moses Robinson/Linx Images

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Concert Review: My ‘Wonderful’ Evening with Stevie [PHOTOS]

Stevie Wonder performing at Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA/Photo Credit: Moses Robinson-Linx Images

Written by | Ray Cornelius

As much as I hate to admit this, last Saturday night was my very 1st Stevie Wonder concert. While I had the pleasure of meeting him in 2006 at the Trumpet Awards, I had never seen him perform live. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to see the Motown legend as this was indeed the concert to experience his musical genius. This tour is dubbed “Song in the Key of Life Live” and is a nod to his iconic 1976 Grammy-winning LP that is considered by many as one of the greatest albums ever made. Not to date myself but I was only one-years-old when the project was released but I can remember hearing a lot of the music in my household growing up since my dad was a night club singer and my mother an avid Wonder fan.

I arrived at Philips Arena around 7:30 p.m. and seemed to one of several thousand Atlantans trying to get a $10 burger and fry combo before taking my seat. I ran into a number of Atlanta notables like DJ Salah Ananse, Khari Simmons and NBAF Board Chair Sonya M. Halpern, who had detailed memories associated with this particular album. For Halpern, it was hard to pick just one song but did note that “As” and “Joy Inside My Tears” as favorites. Halpern’s starry eyed look and wide smile reminded me of the face I make when I think about my own favorite album, Thriller.  There were also countless others in the audience who had a “Stevie story…”—recounting where they were when they first heard “Sir Duke” or the lover in their life when “Knocks Me off My Feet” was a hit on the radio.

Stevie with India on stage

 Stevie Wonder was escorted on stage by his sons and India.Arie/Photo Credit: Moses Robinson-Linx Images

And then it happened! The lights in Philips Arena went out and the crowd erupted into cheers and thunderous hand claps. Almost like magic, Stevie Wonder appeared on stage in a sparkling burgundy suit escorted by his two young sons and Atlanta’s soul music queen, India.Arie. The talented vocalist and #1 fan of Wonder appeared like the sun in a radiant orange dress with yellow gele adorned with colorful butterflies. Arie was having a Diana Ross “moment” as she changed at least six times throughout the show, each dress and coordinating gele more spectacular than the one before.

Wonder started the show by greeting the audience with a faux Southern accent since he was in the “South.”  He reminisced about taking his first plane ride from Detroit to Atlanta and bragged about listening to Aretha Franklin on the way down. He also said that Atlanta represented many pleasant memories for him throughout his career. Arie then helped him to his seat and show formally began at 8:27 p.m.

From the first stroke of his keys, the audience was under his spell and the 60-something year old musician proved why his last name is Wonder. The show started with the album’s first song, “Love’s in Need of Love Today.” Arie, now in gown number two, joined him on vocals for “Have a Talk with God” followed by “Village Ghetto Land” and then “Contusion.” Fan favorites “Sir Duke” and “I Wish” brought the sold out crowd to their feet in one big sing along. At times, the 40 + crowd sounded louder than Wonder and his nearly 30-piece band. I noticed that acclaimed musician Lil’ John Roberts assisted on drums. He is best known for his time with another music icon, Janet Jackson. From there, Wonder segued into the romantic classic, “Knocks Me Off My Feet,” which had some of the audience members waving their cell phones from side to side as if they were holding a candle. Wonder’s voice, still in top form, harmonized perfectly with Earl Klugh’s melodic guitar.

AishaIt wasn’t until 9:15 p.m. that Wonder brought his signature harmonica and began to boogie with his band saying that “players love to jam.” From there he launched into “Pastime Paradise,” “Summer Soft,” featuring background vocalist Keith John, and “Ordinary Pain” which featured Arie in costume number three.

Wonder also took this time to address the controversial “gun problem” we have in the U.S. and asked the audience to stand if they agreed with him of which 90 % stood on their feet. “We have the power to end the problem,” said Wonder. “The government needs to make people accountable!”

After that Wonder returned to the music for “Saturn” and “Ebony Eyes” which he performed again with Arie, who by this time was in costume number four.

After a brief intermission, Arie emerged on stage again in an all-white number along with Wonder, who began talking about his next song, “Isn’t She Lovely.” The tune was written for his then unborn daughter, Aisha Morris (pictured above), who now travels with her dad as one of his beautiful background singers. He also joked about the bet his mother made with Berry Gordy that he would regain his sight by 2017. After singing “Isn’t She Lovely,” Wonder performed soul stirring versions of Joy “Inside My Tears” and “Black Man.”

By this time in the show, Wonder had brought out another Atlanta musician, Ryan Kilgore to assist on saxophone. He was later joined again by Arie for “Ngiculera” and an impromptu version of Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel.”

We were now near the end of the show and Wonder gave the audience some more backstory on the album including recognition of the late Dorothy Ashby, the original harpist on the song, “If Its Magic.” This was the only song of the evening where Wonder performed without his band.

From there, he was joined again by Klugh and Arie for the climactic songs, “As” and “Another Star” which also included guest appearances by Atlanta vocalists, Chantae Cann, Algebra Blessett, Janelle Monae and film director and friend, Spike Lee.

Oh but wait, there was more!

After singing for what appeared to be 2.5 hours, Wonder transformed into his alter ego, DJ Tick Tick Boom and performed snippets from other classic songs like “Do I Do,” “Master Blaster,” “For Once In My Life,” “Happy Birthday.” He teased the audience by saying, “If the price is right, I’ll play all night.” He finally ended the show with full versions of “My Cherie Amour” and “Superstition.”

After the show, I was able to join my good friends from UPtv, David Gardner and Chelsye Burrows, who had backstage access to meet Mr. Wonder. Because there were so many of us in the holding space, his PR team decided to break us up into groups of six for photos. Either way I was thrilled to see him up close again and had experience way more than I had anticipated. It was moments like this that can’t be explained in a text or captured on an Instagram post. You simply just had to be there and I thank God I was blessed to be in that ‘Wonderful” number!

Stevie addressing the audience

Stevie Wonder talking to backstage guests/Photo Credit: Wonder Productons, LLC

Spike Lee with Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder with filmmaker and friend Spike Lee/Photo Credit: Wonder Productions, LLC

India.Arie and Janelle Monae with Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder with India.Arie and Janelle Monae/Photo Credit: Wonder Productions, LLC

Group photo with Stevie Wonder

Here is my group shot with Stevie Wonder/Photo Credit: Wonder Productions, LLC

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Alvin Ailey, Stevie Wonder and more to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Congratulations are in order for Motown legend Stevie Wonder and cultural ambassador to the world, Alvin Ailey. Both are recipients of this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom. The two will be awarded next Monday, November 24 by President Barack Obama. Ailey artistic director, Robert Battle, will accept the medal on behalf of the late choreographer, who passed away in 1989 at the age of 58. Ailey is the nation’s premiere dance theatre and has thrilled audiences worldwide for over 50 years.

The dance company and the musical icon join an elite list of honorees including Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, actresses Meryl Streep and Marlo Thomas, civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner (all murdered in 1964), physicist Mildred Dresselhaus, author Isabel Allende, economist Robert Solow, golfer and activist Charles Sifford, journalist Tom Brokaw and others.

“I look forward to presenting these nineteen bold, inspiring Americans with our Nation’s highest civilian honor. From activists who fought for change to artists who explored the furthest reaches of our imagination; from scientists who kept America on the cutting edge to public servants who help write new chapters in our American story, these citizens have made extraordinary contributions to our country and the world,” President Obama said in a statement.

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Photo Credit: scfta.org