Some of the favorite memories of my life were actually seeing phenomenal performances of the most amazing talents who I think ever lived! The artists of my fondest memories were like no one else.
Because of the taste in music and movies of my parents, I recall Ms. Josephine Baker! She was the toast of Paris in the 1920’s and beyond. She was in popular demand because she was truly one of a kind. She was described as the most exotic, multitalented entertainer in the world in her day. She was also a young woman of color from St. Louis who in addition to her native English, learned to speak fluent French! Ultimately she became a French citizen in 1937. In World War II, she helped the “Free French” efforts, carrying messages to the allies written in invisible ink on her sheet music! In spite of all her global accolades, she was confronted with segregation in America. She refused to play for segregated audiences, famously turning down an offer worth $10,000 in a Miami nightclub. The club eventually caved to her demands, and she is credited with ushering in integrated live entertainment in the U.S., beginning in Las Vegas, NV. She will forever be remembered as a mega-star around the world. I saw her perform in Philadelphia before she died during her final world tour.
After I started out as an artist myself, I met and saw David Bowie perform at the same theater in Philadelphia that I had seen Josephine perform in. He was amazing, and so was Josephine.
I had a crush on Fred Astaire growing up. He dazzled everyone as he sang, acted, and danced .
Fred Astaire and Sammy Davis Jr. were both my dream-time dance partners!
Peaches & Herb were the opening act for Sammy @ Caesars Palace in Vegas. “The Candy Man” was a number one hit for Sammy in 1972, and came to be his moniker later in his career.
I did get to catch Lena Horne in New York City doing her final one woman show. She was an ageless beauty. I pretended to be like her a lot. I adored her all my life, and wanted to meet her someday. I got the chance. After her show, I went to her dressing room. She had heard of me and my work with Peaches & Herb, and wanted to say hello too. I was speechless.
Every one of these stars also had that unique quality that set them apart – they were truly like no one else. Their style and artistry will never be duplicated.
At the height of my career, I knew Michael Jackson well enough to know that he grew up inspired to dance by watching and studying Fred Astaire. Nobody will ever steal our hearts the way Michael did when he sang for the first time on The Ed Sullivan show. He blew everyone away with his smooth, soulful voice and captivating style . That show helped boost him and the Jackson Five’s Motown sound to become the soundtrack of a whole generation’s romantic experiences. After Michael went solo, music lovers of all ages appreciated his creative video productions which displayed an urban edge all his own. His talent was undeniable. I am so happy that I was able to sing backup on Michael’s song, “Man in the Mirror“. There’s not that many celebrities who have come close to his kind of charisma.
We celebrate these incredible geniuses of natural born destiny and distinction, who although they are gone now will outlive us all thanks to their dedicated career contributions in entertainment. We recognize what great quality they possessed as they gifted us on the big screen, stereo, television, the radio, and live in concert.
And now, sadly, we must also remember the unstoppable, unlimited artistry of Prince. Prince will always be one of those unforgettable icons of our time. He will forever live on as one of the greatest talents this world has ever known.