Women of soul showcase talents in rousing White House acts


Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin made a point of keeping herself aloof, sending an unmistakable message that she has no equal.



Patti LaBelle brought the guests to their feet with strong, solid and powerful performances that delighted, thrilled and inspired.

By Carmen Glover

While basketball lovers were glued to their television sets on Monday night to watch the UConn men’s team thrash Kentucky for the NCAA championship, PBS aired the Women of Soul special, which was taped at the White House in March to honor Women’s History Month. Those who missed the one-hour special lost out on the chance to enjoy a real treat of performances by the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, entertainer extraordinaire Patti LaBelle, Jill Scott, Melissa Etheridge, Janelle Monae, Tessanne Chin and Ariana Grande. The repeat broadcast will air on PBS on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.


The First Family was represented by President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle and her mother Marian Robinson.

The night got off to an engaging start with President Barack Obama welcoming the guests and sharing why the gathering was convened.

“This is really a good lineup and I want to thank our performers for this evening. They are fantastic,” said the President. “Soul music makes us move. It makes us feel. Tonight we are in for a healthy dose of truth from some of the finest voices there are. I can’t wait.” The excitement emanating from the President’s voice was palpable. He then introduced Patti LaBelle as “a real American treasure.”


President Obama did not hide the joy he felt after being treated to Patti LaBelle’s rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” which awed and thrilled at the same time.

Addressing the President and First Lady, LaBelle said. “I want to thank you for the five years you have been in this wonderful home. You have taken us somewhere we’ve never been before.” She then sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,’ soaring to heights that were impressive, confident and smooth.

Jill Scott made it clear she was there to party when she sang and danced to Franklin’s hit “Rock Steady” before returning to perform her own hit “Golden.”


Soul Singer Jill Scott performed her hit “Golden.” and Aretha Franklin’s hit “Rock Steady.”

Franklin, the ultimate in diva-like behavior, was the only singer to perform with her own band and backup singers. All of the other performers were accompanied by the house hand. Franklin did not disappoint, belting out “Never Loved a Man,” while the President rocked back and forth to the catchy number, smiling delightedly as the Queen of Soul brought the house down in a flawless performance. Franklin ended the show with a stirring rendition of the gospel classic “Amazing Grace,” that paid homage to her roots.


Patti LaBelle commanded the stage while guests look on in rapt attention.

But the night unquestionably belonged to Patti LaBelle who was warm in her interactions with the other singers, even joining them onstage in performing a tribute to Tina Turner while Franklin was noticeably absent.

tina turner tribute

All of the singers except Aretha Franklin paid tribute to the indomitable Tina Turner.

LaBelle belted out her staple “Lady Marmalade” later in the evening, reaching notes that were as incredible in their range as they were thrilling to hear. She danced, pranced and delivered a spectacular performance that would put singers more than a third of her robust 70 years to shame.


Janelle Monae was a ball of energy and movements as she sang and danced.

The diminutive Monae was a ball of energy as she leapt from one end of the stage to the other while delivering the notes to Shirley Bassey’s James Bond theme song  “Goldfinger” in a voice as clear as a bell. Monae later performed “Tightrope” from the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” album. She enjoyed performing and at one point she knelt on stage, directly in front of the first family, eliciting rapturous smiles and dance moves from the President and First Lady, as they rocked in their seats.


Rocker Melissa Etheridge sang her classic “Only One.”

By the time Melissa Etheridge came to the stage to sing “Only One,” the guests needed no encouragement to make their appreciation known. While Chin lapsed into Jamaican patois as she gave some background about how deeply her love for music is steeped into the cultural mores from the land of her birth.


Tessanne Chin waves to the guests as she walks to the stage .

Chin sang Donna Summer’ “Last Dance” and got into the spirit by dancing to the beat as she moved easily on stage and brought the song to life a style reminiscent of Summer herself.

ariana grande

Ariana Grande was nervous but once she began to sing the jitters fled.

Grande acted every bit her age, greeting the first family with “What’s up. How y’all doing. You okay?” causing them to burst into laughter and acknowledge that yes, they were doing just fine. Grande sang “I Have Nothing,” in honor of her late childhood icon Whitney Houston.

If you are unable to catch the re-broadcast when it airs on Saturday afternoon, set your television sets to record the special. You will not be disappointed.–OnPointPress.net.


BET honors luminaries for their passion, commitment to excellence

berry gordy

L:R, Smokey Robinson, Ice Cube, Debra Lee, Berry Gordy, Wayne Brady and Stephen Hill.

By Carmen Glover

The recent broadcast of the 2014 BET Honors demonstrated the monumental impact that African-Americans have had in shaping the cultural and business industries. Multi-faceted entertainer Wayne Brady hosed the event and began the function by promising to show the audience “what extraordinary looks like,” when he gave snippets of the honorees’ backgrounds. He then invited two other men onstage as the trio performed their version of Ginuwine’s hit “Pony,” as the audience dissolved into laughter and appreciative cheers.

Kenneth Chenault

CEO of American Express, Kenneth Chenault, seen here with his wife, was honored at the BET Honors with the Corporate Citizen Award.

“No one achieves success on their own,” said Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, in accepting his award. He cited his family and colleagues for supporting him on his journey to success. Chenault also encouraged others to strive for success. “You can make it by focusing on what you can control and the one thing you can control everyday is your performance,” he said.

Motown Founder Berty Gordy received BET's first Visionary Award for his pioneering efforts in music.

Motown Founder Berry Gordy received BET’s first Visionary Award for his pioneering efforts in music.

Berry Gordy was serenaded by Motown legend Smokey Robinson before being presented with BET’s first Visionary Award. A humble and emotional Gordy said that he appreciated the award because “Vision is beautiful to me. For me vision is about imagining where you want to go without knowing how you will get there. But it’s all about passion.”

Ice Cube received the Entertainer Award and said: “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would share the stage with entertainment greats like Aretha Franklin and Berry Gordy.” He thanked his family and stated that “No one has a career this long, 25 years, without the help of a lot of people.”

Smokey Robinson

Smokey Robinson serenaded his “best friend” Berry Gordy and showcased a voice that was as clear as crystal.

Carrie Mae Weems was given the Visual Artist Award and matter-of-factly stated: “The vast majority of you did not know my name and have never seen my work,” but she thanked BET for acknowledging her contribution to the arts.


Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin accepted her award then performed in honor of Nelson Mandela.

Aretha Franklin received the Music Art Award and also sang in tribute to the late South African President Nelson Mandela. Franklin thanked BET for “the support, visibility and exposure that you have given me over the years.” She was regally attired and sang with the ease born of confidence in her talents.


Mariah Carey debuted a new song at the event but her dress exposed most of her cleavage.

Mariah Carey performed while lying on a piano but although her singing was good, attention was primarily focused on her ample chest, displayed in a gravity-defying gown.


Jennifer Hudson performed a medley of Aretha Franklin’s songs that had the audience rocking.

While the background information about the award recipients was captivating, the night belonged to the two top performers of the evening: Robinson whose tribute to Gordy was so beautiful that it brought Gordy to tears, and Jennifer Hudson, who sang a medley of Franklin’s songs that was soaring, passionate and electrifying. Janelle Monae performed some of the Jackson Five songs in tribute to Gordy, which brought smiles to the faces of the audience members.

The BET Honors symbolized a commitment to acknowledging the versatility and achievements of outstanding African-Americans who are often overlooked in wider society when awards are being meted out. The awards show illustrate the importance of honoring talent and celebrating achievements that have shaped the American society in ways that are diverse and broad. –OnPointPres.net.

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