*On Sunday evening, September 22 the main event of the annual Heroes and Legends (HAL) Awards took place at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Honoree Chaka Khan called it ‘a holy gathering’ as hundreds of folks came out for the 24th annual weekend-long festivities. Fans of Khan – a Grammy winner, Platinum recording artist, songwriter, producer, author and actor – celebrated her 40-year span in the entertainment industry.
A little history: Founder/CEO Janie Bradford, who spent 25 years at Motown as a songwriter, created the annual event to aid ‘at risk’ youth by presenting scholarships and to publicly recognize role models from diverse backgrounds, including business, motion picture, theatre and recording leaders. Bradford says, “The HAL Awards is a moment each year of giving back. We pass on the blessing that has been bestowed upon us during the year. In doing so we hope that the HAL scholarships awarded to the students of the arts will in some way impact their lives and help them continue to grow in their chosen fields of dreams.”
Other honorees included singer/songwriter Siedah Garrett who did a surprising performance of ‘Don’t Look Any Further’ with Dennis Edwards – a solo hit that he had between stints with The Temptations – and legendary singing group The Flamingos. Businessman Troy Carter was also applauded.
The HAL board – responding to a special need of aid to former Supremes member, Cindy Birdsong – presented the Supreme Love Endowment Fund to her.
To the audience’s delight, after Khan received her award, she belted out the renowned 1974 hit song, “You Got The Love,” made famous when she was lead singer of Rufus. Grabbing a guitar and playing for her was singer/songwriter and musician Ray Parker, Jr., made famous for his work with the group ‘Radio’ [“Two Places At The Same Time,” “A Woman Needs Love (Just like You Do)”] before he went solo in 1982.
During the event, there were numerous and spontaneous outpourings of love and emotion for the Motown family. At one point, Motown Records founder Berry Gordy was giving a speech, when all of a sudden with no prompting, former Motown members in the audience got up from their seats and went onstage to share the moment with him.
Led by Gordy, they all serenaded the Motown company song “Hitsville U.S.A.” – a song written by Smokey Robinson years ago as a unification of those employed by the history-making record company.
Members seen included Martha Reeves (Martha and The Vandellas), Mary Wilson (The Supremes), Claudette Robinson (The Miracles), Dennis Edwards (The Temptations), Mickey Stevenson (A&R), Miller London (Sales), Cornelius Grant (The Temptations), Betty Kelly (Martha and The Vandellas), and many others.
The Dinner Chairperson and Mistress of Ceremonies was none other than the lovely, electrifying JoMarie Payton and co-host James Avery (Uncle Phil of ‘Fresh Prince’). Presenters included Miller London, Claudette Robinson, Ray Parker Jr., Marla Gibbs, Lenny Williams, Billy Vera, and Thelma Houston.
The event – produced by Janie Bradford for A Lady Jane Production – was sponsored by Entertainment Connection Magazine, and The Berry Gordy Family Foundation. A special tribute went out to Cynthia Meadoux who passed away earlier this year. She worked tirelessly for the HAL foundation.
There was a lot of joy, love, and memories shared in the hotel ballroom when the event ended with many looking forward to next years’ 25th HAL Awards anniversary. For additional photo, please click on the link below.