When Diana Ross performs "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" in her concerts, she usually exclaims "GO FOR YOUR DREAMS! REACH AND THE THEIR YOURS". When I interviewed director of "Dirty Laundry" J. Maurice Jamal for UNEQ Magazine (www.UneQmagazine.com) back in December (www.dirtylaundrythemovie.com), he mentioned his what's next was co-writing the adaptation of "B-Boy Blues" into a feature film with the original novelist James Earl Hardy. As this is a book I read before I even came out of the closet (in the mid-90s), I immediately asked to be a part. Since that time, our interview has come out and Mr. Jamal is off and running with "B-BOY BLUES: THE MOVIE" (www.bboybluesthemovie.com). Once the open call for casting hit my inbox, I quickly realized that I am not 20 (nor in my 20s) anymore... and though I boast a 29-inch waist that I've maintained since high school (and I enjoy the looks of shock from bouncers and servers when I am carded), but starring as Mitchell, Raheim, or any of the gang is likely not going to happen. Granted, with some tweaking on the character and situational adaptation from book to film, they could work it around me a la Diana Ross' Dorothy in "The Wiz". But from the closer inspection of the character breakdowns, I figured I should hold out for a "cameo" while forwarding the sheet to my Anthony, who is an actor and falls more in line with several of the characters. (He has since auditioned and is being considered in his own right, which is a HUGE STRETCH and just the beginning of all the AMAZING things that are unfolding for him). Meanwhile, we happened to run into J. Maurice Jamal last Thursday and he - without nudging or mention - told me that he does still want to talk to me about something that may be a good fit for me in the film. I hope my 'laws of attraction' are at work and this truly does unfold into my BIG SCREEN DEBUT.
With that, there was lots to celebrate on Friday (on the heels of that news and Anthony's audition), so instead of Disneyland, we popped one block up to the Madison Square Garden to behold Diana Ross' SOLD OUT show at the famous venue's THEATER. But not before hooking up with my Amazing Grace Nichole and her niece Daylin, who was in town to hang out with her aunt for the week. We met up at the spot (http://www.karaoke17.com/) as I got us ready for the main event by performing Diana Ross' greatest hits. Daylin - of course - gave us the best that Chris Brown, Lloyd, and the young gang had to offer. And Nichole did her best impersonation of a jazz singer (a la "Sister" from Sparkle). As always, KARAOKE rules!
From there, Nichole and Daylin dropped Anthony and me off to the Madison Square Garden. We met up with Tata and Michael, both of whom received the balance of our tickets. But at this much- anticipated event, I saw so many friends - old and new. Many of my fellow Diana Ross Fan Club mates were in the house and this provided our first time to meet. My buddies - like Frankie, Marlon, Murphy, etc. - were in the house and we went so far as to get a picture taken together afterwards. Nile Rodgers - half of the team (CHIC) behind Diana's best-selling album ever "diana" (with "Upside Down" and "I'm Coming Out") - was there. James Lipton, who chatted Miss Ross up for two hours (and change) on BRAVO's "Inside The Actor's Studio" was there. L.A. Reid (President of Island Def Jam Records) was there with his family and I'm told "loving him some Diana Ross", who he even commented on maybe signing to his label to play a role in elevating that label's cache. Reid pointed out in a Rolling Stone article a couple of years ago that he's always searching for the "... next Diana Ross" and feels he always falls short. Maybe signing her and choreographing her a studio comeback of original material could be his way of fulfilling that desire.
But let's be clear: As Diana's show reflected (and the crowd that stayed on its feet for hit after hit after hit), she need not ever record another chart-topper ever again as she has so many already. And though she entertained us with a good dozen or so of them, there are many more that we could have heard that night. Her set list was as follows:
I'm Coming Out
More Today Than Yesterday
Where Did Our Love Go?
Stop! In the Name of Love
Touch Me in the Morning
It's My House
Ease On Down the Road
Fine and Mellow
Why Do Fools Fall In Love?
Why Do Fools Fall In Love? (Reprise)
Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To?)
Ain't No Mountain High Enough
Ain't No Mountain High Enough (Reprise)
I Will Survive
I Love You (That's All That Really Matters)
I Will Survive (Reprise)
On Monday, Anthony and I ventured down to Red Bank, New Jersey to see Ross one more time. Again, to a SOLD-OUT audience, she delivered in a way that made me proud, though she switched out "MORE TODAY THAN YESTERDAY" for "MY WORLD IS EMPTHY WITHOUT YOU". The reviews for all the shows so far have been SMASHING! And I look forward to hearing more about Miss Ross as she travels the states and then Europe next month. And I'll let you know what's going on...
Ironically, as a P.S., Anthony and I went about listening to an artist whose project we landed from Nathan at SPLASH last Tuesday. Her name is Amy Winehouse and the CD (on Universal Republic Records) is titled "Back to Black". On her artwork she looks white, but the music is "old school soul"-style a la Etta James with a some bluesy Dinah Washington to boot. I liken her vocal tones to Lauryn Hill and India.Arie. But Amy is truly an original. (www.amywinehouse.com) and on TRACK 7, "TEARS DRY ON THEIR OWN", she had the good taste to sample Ashford & Simpson's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". As DIANA says "GO FOR YOUR DREAMS. REACH AND THEIR YOURS". Why not use a little help from her catalogue to catapult that?