dining with divas

Dining with the Divas took place on the historic stage of The Apollo Theater which was extended over orchestra theater seats to accommodate invitational only guests. (Photo by Shahar Azran)

*Jonelle Procope, president and chief executive officer, Apollo Theater Foundation, welcomed 250 guests to the eagerly awaited second annual Dining with the Divas luncheon that took place on the historic stage of The Apollo Theater on Tuesday, February 14, 2012.  ABC’s Deborah Roberts returned as Mistress of Ceremonies.

During Black History Month, the luncheon has become a signature Valentine’s Day event that was attended by luminaries from the corporate, political, entertainment, and sports communities who donned fashionable red threads to dine on a special menu created exclusively for them by celebrated chef/restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson of the Red Rooster Restaurant.

The famed stage that launched the careers of icons such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and many, many more was the setting for a celebration of the accomplishments of exceptional women and to benefit the Educational Programs of the Apollo that train young local talent for careers in the field of theatre and performance.

The second annual Dining with the Divas luncheon took place on the historic stage of The Apollo Theater which was extended over the theater seats to accommodate invitational only guests.

During the afternoon affair, Crystal McCrary and special guests from the book Inspiration: Profiles of Black Woman Changing Our World — penned by McCrary and Nathan Hale Williams with photography by Lauri LyonsSusan Taylor, Gayle King, Bethann Hardison, Thelma Golden and Majora Carter, expressed words of inspiration and the importance of mentorship.

Following a special Valentine’s Day toast to not only celebrate their journeys thus far but to wish them continued success in their future, the ladies continued networking chats that began at an earlier reception.

The Apollo Theater thanks the following donors for their generous support of Dining with the Divas: Time Warner, Estee Lauder, Fairview Capital Partners, Inc., Hearst Corporation, Morgan Stanley and Weight Watchers.

Additional kudos to print design by Hearst Corporation, Catering by Great Performances; and products generously provided by Abrams, Estee Lauder, La Caravelle Champagne and Weight Watchers.  Luncheoneers parted with fabulous swag bags containing exclusive prizes courtesy of Physique 57, Galerie Tsangarkis, The Betsy-South Beach and Mauboussin. 

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chaka khan & red dress

Chaka Khan (center) is one of the celebrated female celebrities who walked the runway at The Heart Truth's Red Dress Fashion Show at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

*The number one killer of women is heart disease.  The Heart Truth — a national awareness campaign for women about heart disease sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – was launched to address this issue.

In 2002, NHLBI launched the Red Dress as the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness.  In February 2003, the first Red Dress Collection was showcased at New York Fashion Week.  Since then, many top designers and celebrity women have donated their time and talent to showcase the power of the Red Dress to encourage women to take action to lower their risk for heart disease.

This year, The Heart Truth commemorated a decade of commitment to inspiring women to protect their heart health with the presentation of the sensational The Heart Truth’s Red Dress Collection at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 sponsored by Diet Coke with partners Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas.

The heartsational show was directed by Kevin Krier & Associates who also served as production & designer liaison; and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide served as executive directors and media relations.

Celebrated celebrities walking the runway included Aisha Tyler in Badgley Mischka; Chaka Khan in Chris March; Cindi Leive in Jason Wu; Christie Brinkley in Pamella Roland; Debbie Phelps in Adrianna Papell; Elisabeth Rohm in Nicole Miller; Giselle Blondet in Oscar de la Renta; Gloria Estefan in Narcisso Rodriguez; Jeannette Torres-Alvarez in Carios Miele; Jenna Elfman in Alberta Ferreti; Jennifer Nettles in David Meister; LaLa Anthony in Rachel Roy; Linda Evans in Tadashi Shoji; Minka Kelly in Diane von Furstenberg; Patti Stanger in Marc Bouwer; Rebecca Romijn in Marchesa; and Rose McGowan in Donna Karen.

Starting with February’s American Heart Month and throughout the year, NHLBI reaffirms its commitment to increasing awareness about heart disease among women and helping women take steps to reduce their own personal risk of developing heart disease.

While millions of women have been reached with NHLBI’s heart health message as a result of Red Dress Collection, the real “heart” of the campaign — hundreds of Heart Truth partners, Champions, and individuals — will organize events and activities across the country to spread The Heart Truth.

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.

audrey j bernard