UNCF An Evening Of Stars Tribute To Lionel Richie
Natalie Cole, Akon, Brian Mcknight, Boney James and Chrisette Michele came out for Uncf Tribute to Lionel RichieÂ
The 31st edition of An Evening of Stars, UNCF's annual televised celebration of excellence in entertainment and education, took place before a live audience at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium this past Saturday (September 12) with an all-star tribute to Lionel Richie, a graduate of UNCF member school Tuskegee University. The program will air in January 2010 on BET, WGN and over 40 television stations in major markets throughout the country.
A sparkling array of stars, including nine-time Grammy Award winner Natalie Cole, hip hop hook master Akon, American Idol favorite Katharine McPhee, teen phenom Jesse McCartney and multi-platinum recording artist Brian McKnight, saluted Richie by performing songs he's written and made famous.
"The stars who will be at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium to honor Lionel Richie are doing more than paying tribute to a great artist and entertainer, they are standing with UNCF for the proposition that all children, all Americans deserve an education," said Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D., president and CEO of UNCF. "These artists are making certain that the millions of Americans who tune into AEOS understand how important it is to help UNCF meet President Barack Obama's goal for our nation to regain world leadership in the percentage of citizens with college degrees."
Performers for An Evening of Stars were James Ingram, Boney James, Anika Noni Rose, Mary Mary's Erica Campbell, Johnny Gill and Grammy-Award winning R&B singer Chrisette Michele. A superstar cast of presenters will include Cedric the Entertainer, Terrence Howard, Kim Delaney, Tom Joyner, Regina King, Shemar Moore, Shaun Robinson, Romeo, Bobb'e J. Thompson, Tracie Thoms and Blair Underwood
Richie was on hand to accept UNCF's Award of Excellence for his long and distinguished career as a singer-songwriter-producer and for his history of supporting minority education. Previous recipients of the Award of Excellence have been Lou Rawls, Quincy Jones, Steve Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson and Patti LaBelle.
An Evening of Stars attracted a national audience of 3.3 million last year. The program has won NAACP Image Awards for its tributes to Stevie Wonder (2006) and Smokey Robinson (2008).
Woven throughout An Evening of Stars will be stories about those who have made UNCF's educational mission their own. A clip of President Obama addressing a Joint Session of Congress will remind viewers of the President's commitment to regain world leadership in the number of Americans with college degrees. A special appreciation of Michael Jackson will recall the King of Pop's legacy of generosity and foresight by endowing a scholarship program through UNCF more than 20 years ago. A segment featuring actor and comedian Cedric the Entertainer will highlight young people attending college on scholarships funded by a program that Cedric established at UNCF. Another segment will tell the story of how a UNCF scholarship program funded by the foundation started by the legendary Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, has achieved college graduation rates that are 40% higher than the national average.
This year's show is made possible by Target, the Presenting Sponsor of AEOS, and by national corporate sponsors McDonald's and AT&T. Official sponsors of An Evening of Stars are American Airlines, Wachovia, a Wells Fargo Company, Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., BET Networks and WGN. Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.
Returning for his 13th year as executive producer and director of UNCF's "An Evening of Stars" is six-time Emmy Award winner Louis J. Horvitz. One of the industry's most accomplished and sought-after live television producer/ directors, Horvitz has directed the annual Academy Awards telecast for 13 years. He has also helmed the Prime Time Emmy Awards, and directed The Kennedy Center Honors and the American Film Institute (AFI) Life Achievement Award. In January of 2009 Horvitz directed The Kids Inaugural We Are the Future for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michele Obama. In 2010, Horvitz is slated to direct the 52nd Grammy Awards. Also returning for their 13th year are producers Cort Casady and Bill Urban who are joined by Deborah Read.
For more information on AEOS, visit www.uncf.org.