by Diane Malone
18 Sept 2007

 quincy jones stevie wonder ben vereen

  What does a Country singer, an R&B singer and an Opera singer all have in common? On September 18th they all shared a musical message and that message was the echoes of the late Martin Luther King, Jr. to “bring people together in harmony” and respect individual differences. The star-studded benefit “Dream Concert” did just that, bringing together many different genres of musicians, politicians, and people to raise funds for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, DC. The once-in-a-lifetime three-hour benefit concert was held at Radio City Music Hall and marked an historical occasion helping to close the financial gap of the 81 Million that the Build The Dream Foundation already raised and the 100 Million that is needed to complete the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. 
  
garth brooks  Among the celebrity lineup was legend Aretha Franklin, Garth Brooks, Queen Latifah, Ben Vereen, Joss Stone, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, opera diva Jessye Norman, Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Pat Monahan, Carlos Santana, Kirk Franklin, Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Thicke, Quincy Jones, Bebe Winans, Cece Winans, and Russell Simmons. The evening was filled with an eclectic mix of performers, presenters, and supporters, some giving brief speeches such as Quincy Jones who was one of the co-chairmen of the event. 
  Themes were also evident among the performers choice of song, from Garth Brook’s “We Shall Be Free” to the fantastic opera diva Jessye Norman who performed a grand “America the Beautiful”. Legend Aretha Franklin belted out her signature trademark “Respect” while Stevie Wonder roused the audience with his closing performances of “Superstition” and “Happy Birthday” to Dr. King.

kirk franklin caroline digonis

  Stevie Wonder was also given an acknowledgment award for his efforts helping to raise funds towards the memorial. Stevie Wonder, receiving a standing ovation, reminded the audience of Dr. Kings message for racial harmony and the continued efforts that people must make towards this goal.
  The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is scheduled to be completed in 2009 and will stand between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials in Washington, DC.

 

All photos: (c) Caroline P. Digonis 2007