Thursday, September 27, 2007
African American Literary Awards Show 2007
Last night I had the great honor of being a presenter at the 2007 African American Literary Awards. The event was held at the Alhambra Ballroom on Adam Clayton Powell Blvd (7th Avenue for those of you who are natives..lol) and 126th St. I attended the event with publicist Mary Moore (So Much Moore Communications) and I was literally in awe because until a few days prior to the event...I didn't even know these awards existed. The Alhambra Ballroom is not far from where I live, so I decided to walk over to the event...the weather was absolutely BEE-YOO-TEE-FULL!!!...it was an amazing 80 degrees and I don't know about anyone else but weather like that always inspires me to dress up because I KNOW I don't have to throw a coat over my beautiful outfit...what can I say? Ever the diva ya'll...lol.
Anyway, as I walked past the stage door of the Apollo...I noticed 4 sista's elegantly dressed in both black and red satin evening gowns walking ahead of me...I just smiled and complimented them as I walked past them because I love to see my sista's when we get all done up...strutting like proud peacocks! It's how we should ALWAYS carry ourselves...regardless of what we are wearing...ya know? I met Mary out front and we took the elevator to the ballroom. We were actually a little early and the ballroom wasn't finished being set up, so we checked in and took a seat in the vestibule and watched as folks began to arrive.
As we were waiting I had the pleasure of meeting and taking photographs with Yvette Hayward (founder of the show), Abiola Abrams, the evening's host (we go waaaayyy back to 1995 when we met on photo shoot for Today's Black Woman Magazine), Tracy Humphrey (The Weather Authority on FOX-5 News..and a funny sister to boot!), Sony/Columbia/Twist recording artist Jesse O (the evening's featured musical guest), Recording artist Freddie Jackson, Melba Wilson (Owner of Melba's Restaurant..a fave of mine!), Kwame Jackson (The Apprentice), Stacy J. (The Apprentice), Victoria Rowell (Young & the Restless), Crystal McCrary Anthony (Host of BETJ's "My Two Cents")...I was SERIOUSLY coveting the beautiful yellow blouse that Miss Crystal was wearing ya'll!!! After a brief wait and MANY photo ops...we got our table assignments and headed to the ballroom. I have never been inside the Alhambra Ballroom and it is actually quite beautiful (and really expensive from what I hear) but more on THEM later...lol. As we entered the ballroom to search for our table a sister approached me who recognized me from MFC and she gave me quite a few beautiful compliments. She introduced herself as comedienne Pat G'Orge-Walker and she told me that she was nominated for an award as well. I wished her the best of luck and promised to take a photo with her before I left...She had me smiling the whole evening! Mary and I were sitting at table #3 along with, Tracy, Stacy J and to my surprise....Hill Harper currently of CSI-NY fame! I am a really big fan of Hill's and I was trying really hard NOT to stare because although he's a little short for me he is SERIOUSLY foine ya'll!!!
After a quick sampling of appetizers and cocktails we quickly took our seats and the show began. Abiola Abrams was the host for the evening and she introduced Hill Harper to present the first couple of awards...He (Hill) spoke wonderfully before he told us he had to depart because CSI-NY's premiere party was also that night. I was impressed that he took the time to show up to this event! After several more awards we were treated to a music selection from Sony/Columbia/Twist recording artist Jesse O..he sang Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" and he performed it beautifully...the brother has a wonderful voice....I look forward to seeing big things from him! Dinner service began..lol...the brother who started distributing the salad..DEFINITELY had an attitude...lol...he looked angry as hell to have to be doing that...my salad was a mushy mess and was clearly hanging out in the kitchen area for a VERY LONG TIME!!! It was inedible...it really was. Soon after my salad arrived I presented the award in the Comedy/Humor Category and as I read the winner's name...I had a big smile on my face...the winner was Pat G'Orge Walker, the sister who had come over and introduced herself to me earlier! She told the crowd it was a wonderful honor to receive the award AND to receive it from me! I noticed that most of the "celebrity presenters" all had to depart shortly after presenting their awards..lol. During the second half Jesse O performed a second song...this one and original tune about HIV/AIDS awareness..(It was a nice tune..but hard to hear over the clanking of plates and food trays!) Mary and I stuck around for dinner...lol...I don't know if that was a mistake or not. The dinner choice was chicken or fish...No one ever asked me what I wanted...so you know..I nearly lost it as the waiter placed that fish in front of me! Considering my ordeal with fish LAST WEEK (See the Gentrification of Harlem pt 3 blog)...there was NO WAY I was trying it again...so I asked him to please take it a way and to PLEASE (I always say please ya'll) bring me a chicken dinner...well I must have pissed him off...because..I NEVER SAW HIM AGAIN! The staff made so much noise serving that it was hard to pay attention to the awards. I sat there for a while as my ENTIRE TABLE began to eat their dinners...after oh..about 10 minutes..it was evident to me that he had no intention of coming back and bringing me anything. If it hadn't been for the brother sitting with Stacy J looking up and noticing that I didn't have any food...I probably wouldn't have gotten a plate at all! (Thanks Jaron!). My chicken arrived with a vegetable mix with no flavor (I know they just took those frozen veggies out of the bag and steamed it with nothing on it!), a baked potato and what had to be the hardest roll I have ever had in my life (I swear...I was banging my knife against it, it was so damn hard...I couldn't even tear it with my fingers...CLEARLY IT SHOULD HAVE NEVER LEFT THE DAMN KITCHEN!!!).
As the final award for the evening was presented...we began to exit the ballroom and got some great goodie bags on the way out...LOTS of books! Ya know I love that!!! Reading IS Fundamental people! On the way outside I met a brother named Randy Kearse who had just gotten out of prison after serving a 15 year sentence and had penned a book on how it all comes down to making the right choices and taking responsibility for the choices we DO make! His book is called "Changin' Your Game Plan!" (How to use incarceration as a stepping stone to SUCCESS) and is available at www.randykearse.com. Ya'll really need to check him out family!
Yvette Hayward...I had a lovely time, thank you so much for inviting me..it was an honor to be in the presence of such esteemed guests. I hope that I can attend next year!
As far as the Alhambra Ballroom goes...I don't know what you all do for your weddings and other special events because your site looks fab...but I do know that the food and the service were just not good...even for the smallest of budgets the service should be top notch and in this case it just wasn't. The waitstaff was not enough for the amount of people in that room and it annoyed me that they (the waitstaff) were dressed like they worked at Footlocker! That basket of bread that was put on our table should have been thrown out...the rolls were like hockey pucks!...I wouldn't have served them to ANYONE. I felt like I was having dinner in the basement of my church rather than in a beautiful ballroom and I also feel like this would have NEVER happened south of 96th street. If I had paid for that event...I would have asked for some of my catering monies to be returned.
Alhambra....You all have to step it up a bit!
"Faith allows you to tell a story (no story, no victory)"