October 28, 1939 Bill Monroe makes his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, performing “Foggy Mountain Top” and “Mule Skinner Blues” at Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium. (via cmt.com)
Last night was beautiful, insane, magical and on fire! The event was a tribute to Clive Davis – he was awarded the Spirit Award by MMRF at their Gala and I put together a night of music in honor of Clive and his artists & songs!
We opened with a burning 15 minute show with songs from Eurythmics, Alicia Keys, Billy Joel, Chicago, Janis Joplin & Aretha! We blew the audience away and ended with an Aretha duel between Cheryl Pepsi Riley & Cookie Watkins singing Think and Respect! Oh My God! Ezra Brown on sax, Robert Stringer on trombone and Jonathan Powell on trumpet and we had Oz Noy on guitar, Ronald Bos Bostick on bass, Jason Patterson on drums, Chris Fischer on keyboards and I was on the grand piano! My singers were Ty Stephens, Colin Smith, Stanley Hopkins, Keith Fluitt, Martha Redbone, Chandra Armstead, Cheryl Pepsi Reilly & Cookie Watkins!
Then Jermaine Paul, the winner of the Voice Season 2 came out and we did his hit song from The Voice, I Believe I Can Fly. What a voice on that dude! Pleasure working with him. We did Santana’s Smooth also with Jermaine – Smooth was Clive’s baby — and Jermaine knocked it out of the park.
Next up was Earth Wind and Fire – my favorite band in the world. I took about 5 minutes to intro them and got carried away — hey EWF is where I learned about Funk — but i couldn’t help it, I was intro-ing my heroes!
Then Jennifer Hudson blew the roof off the place with a Whitney tribute and I am Telling You! I could listen to her all day. Chills. Chills. And more chills.
I got Jennifer and Clive in a huddle to explain my surprise ending to Clive! The plan was to have Clive come back on stage and we would dedicate our finale to him – “That’s What Friends are For.” We had Clive, I invited Jennifer back onstage, Jermaine, EWF and all the Stingers and everyone’s backup singers came on — we had a star studded choir and everyone sang along – 1500 guests and it was a beautiful meaningful end that had everyone, including Clive, teary eyed!
I wouldn’t have thought we could top last year’s event with Stevie Wonder and Michael McDonald, but this might have done it! I feel really lucky to have been involved with this and thank MMRF and Michael Reinert for including us again this year!
I think I lost 10 pounds with all the sweat and excitement.
I will need a week to recover.
But I always have enough juice to play a little bluegrass and for today in music here’s some Bill Monroe.
Foggy Mountain Top!