On Sunday, July 1st at 6pm, the Stroke of Hope Foundation (www.strokeofhope.net) will host its first NYC benefit concert in honor of the late, great, beloved R&B/pop singer Luther Vandross, who during his career sold over 25 million records. The benefit concert will be held at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. The concert is being sponsored by NYC are radio stations CD101.9 FM (smooth jazz) and 98.7 Kiss FM (old school and new R&B), and by American Express.
It was two years ago on July 1, 2005 that Vandross passed away, and it was back in April 2003 that he had the stroke, related to diabetes, that ultimately contributed to his death.
According to Luther’s 82 year old mother Mary Ida Vandross,
"The Stroke of Hope Foundation is near and dear to my heart. People need to take better care of themselves. I have formed a meaningful relationship with Stroke of Hope and it is my mission now to try to help others." Stroke of Hope’s founder and executive director, Hazella Rollins-LaVar, is herself, a stroke survivor with an inspiring story of her own.
The upcoming benefit show will feature saxophonist Kirk Whalum, guitarist Jeff Golub, keyboardist/producer Philippe Saisse and many others, including the Grace Baptist Church Choir. Whalum’s own father is stroke survivor. Earlier this year in Los Angeles, Whalum performed a show for the Stroke of Hope Foundation. Whalum said that "I have made a very personal and spiritual commitment to this cause to use my gift and talents not only to heal, but to educate others while honoring my friend and my father."
Last November, Kirk Whalum recorded the Luther Vandross song, "Give Me the Reason" on the tribute CD Forever, For Always, For Luther Vol. II (various artists). Fittingly, Whalum (like many other great musicians) has played on a number of Vandross’ original recordings. In 1986, Whalum played on Vandross’ "Give Me the Reason;" in 1988, he performed on "Any Love;" in 1991, he played on "Power of Love;" in 1993 on "Never Let me Go;" in 1996 on "Your Secret Love," and in 1998 on "I Know," as well as a medley of "Night I fell in Love/Give me the Reason/Power of Love."
These three top smooth jazz musicians, Kirk Whalum, Jeff Golub and Philippe Saisse have a great chemistry - having performed with each other live and on many of each others’ recordings. They have also played with dozens of top pop music artists. Whalum and Golub are also currently touring together as part of this year's 2007 exciting Guitars & Saxes lineup with Gerald Albright and Tim Bowman, and Golub is also doing tour dates with Warren Hill.
Also, Philippe Saisse played on Luther Vandross’ 1993 recording "Never Let Me Go" and acted as producer, musician and composer on a number of CDs including Whalum’s Cache (’93), Colors (’97) and Best of Kirk Whalum (2002). Both Whalum and Saisse have played on Golub’s Out of the Blue CD (’99) and current CD Grand Central (2007). Whalum’s played on the Saisse CDs Masques (’95) and Next Voyage (’97). Jeff Golub played on the CD Joined at the Hip with Bob James & Kirk Whalum (’96). Golub also played on the Saisse CD Halfway til Dawn (’99). Golub and Saisse also played on Que Pasa, Gato Barbieri’s CD (’97).
Kirk Whalum's wonderful recent, beautiful solo CD is the Babyface Songbook (2005) on Rendezvous Records. Whalum's also got a new CD soon to be released called Round Trip (which will have special guests including Whalum's son Kyle on bass, nephew Kenneth on sax, and Uncle Peanuts on vocals). The gorgeous and funky keyboard renderings of Philippe Saisse are on his current CD from Saisse is Body and Soul Sessions (2006) on Rendezvous Records (Red). As mentioned earlier, Jeff Golub has a new CD out, as musically dynamic and enjoyable as ever, called Grand Central (2007) on the Narada label.
In addition to their illustrious solo careers as smooth jazz artists in their own rights, Whalum, Golub and Saisse have worked with many other stars. Kirk Whalum has also performed with Larry Carlton, Whitney Houston, Babyface, Yolanda Adams, Take 6, Bebe & Cece Winans, Barbra Streisand, Edwin Hawkins, Quincy Jones, Kevin Mahogany, Al Green and many others. Golub has toured and/or recorded with artists such as Rod Stewart, Billy Squier, Tina Turner, John Waite, Gato Barbieri, Rick Braun, Everette Harp, Warren Hill, Brian Culbertson, and numerous other artists. Saisse has worked with the likes of David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Chaka Khan, Steve Winwood, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick, Vanessa Williams, David Sanborn, Al Jarreau, Peabo Bryson, Gato Barbieri, and many great artists.
In addition to the July 1st benefit show being a worthy cause, with these amazing musicians, this Luther Vandross tribute should be a wonderful and moving show!
To buy tickets: Call the Tribeca Performing Arts box office at: 1(212)220-1460 or order online at: http://www.tribecapac.org/box_office.htm
The Show starts on Sunday at 6pm. Mezzanine seats are $50 per ticket. There are also $100 VIP tickets available for orchestra seats which also include admission to a Pre-Reception from 4pm-5:30pm.
Proceeds from the show will benefit the Stroke of Hope Foundation. In the U.S., stroke is the 3rd leading cause of death, and the #1 cause of long-term disability. For more information, or to make a donation, please visit www.strokeofhope.net. Stroke of Hope is a non-profit organization committed to improving quality of life for people by creating stroke awareness, promoting prevention and providing support for stroke survivors, their care partners and families by encouraging physical and emotional recovery, and maintaining an on-line support system. Thank you for your support!