An Evening of Elegance [Interviews]
Now That's Entertainment featured a Classic Black and White Ball
Guests who attended this Evening of Elegance
A Black and White Ball that was physically and spiritually uplifting
A black tie affair that was an evening of elegance filled with outstanding entertainment, delicious food and wholesome association. In the midst of twinkling lights, white linen covered tablecloths and chairs with black decorative sashes, matching black napkins and white orchids as centerpieces, brought a certain ambiance and grandeur to the ballroom. The DJ, started the evening when he inspired the guests to dance as he played Cha Cha Slide. Tyson, served as bartender for the evening with a combination of mixed drinks as well as chilled glasses of red or white wine.
This annual event was organized by Rick and Sheila Coley, as a source of enjoyment and spiritual encouragement for family and friends. An array of Christians, who are Jehovah's Witnesses attended with their families. Dewanna, a young lady who enjoyed dancing during the evening stated, "We don't just knock on people's doors to share the good news from the Bible with them. As Christians, we like to have clean fun as well and we don't have to wait for holidays to enjoy ourselves."
Racial harmony, penetrated the room with people from all races as they constantly called each other, "brother or sister." They came from such congregations as Manhattan Midtown, New York, Wilmington South, in Delaware, Delran Congregation in New Jersey, Ardmore Congregation, in Pennsylvania and congregations out of Connecticut as well. A variety of languages were also represented such as French, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish. Serenity and peace surrounded these individuals which caused them to enjoy each other's company regardless of the languages they spoke. Their commonality of love for #Jehovah God, his precious son #Jesus Christ and each other was a source of pure enlightenment. Their whimsical dances inspired onlookers to join in. What a beautiful source of unity that the world desperately needs to duplicate.
Rick and Sheila, are compelled to organize this event every year. They see it as a vital source of recreation and entertainment for their spiritual brothers and sisters. The couple do not celebrate holidays as Jehovah's Witnesses. Still, the Coleys feel it is necessary to create such events for families and friends. I was fortunate enough to meet a few people who were studying the Bible with some of the Witnesses. Verona, was one of those individuals. She explained, "It is very encouraging because you don't need a holiday to enjoy yourself. I do not miss holidays because so many other functions occupy my time. I do not feel deprived." Another woman named Rory, was present with her husband James. Rory, is not a Witness but James is. With tremendous consideration she stated, "I respect my husband's beliefs. My mother-in-law share scriptures with me and I find the magazines to be very interesting. If my husband is happy, I am happy for him. It hasn't affected our marriage. I totally respect his beliefs and we don't debate about religion. In some ways it makes our marriage more secure."
The Host for the evening was comedian Ken Onassi. He kept the audience laughing as he joked about how women try to manipulate their men to get their nails done. Ken's jokes were hilarious regarding the differences between men and woman. Finally, he talked about how he met Rick and Sheila Coley, "who finally returned home by being here at Thomasina's." Onassi, introduced Sheila as she did a special request and performed #Celine Dion's, Perfect Man For Me. Sheila, then went on to give an emotional explanation about how her and Rick started their company Now That's Entertainment. Sheila, revealed that an elevator crash left her crippled and in a wheel chair for three years. The doctors told Sheila, she would never walk again. "I became depressed so Rick put something together so I could sing because that was something that I really enjoyed doing." She went on to talk about how Rick carried her to the stage so that she could perform. This was the inception of their company. Sheila's self esteem was restored and eventually she started to use a cane and got baptized as a Jehovah's Witness. "That is what helped me," Sheila mentioned. From that point on Rick and Sheila, worked together in their determination to bring wholesome entertainment to audiences.
Donnell Gillespie Remembers his days with Teddy Pendergrass & Harold Melvin
The other source of outstanding entertainment for the evening at this black and white event was Donnell Gillespie. He is the dynamic lead singer for Harold Melvin's Blue Notes. This group was one of the most successful R&B groups in the world. Teddy Pendergrass, served as lead singer of the Blue Notes, during the 1970's before a successful solo career. After Pendergrass' death, his beautiful love songs continue to captivate audiences today. Through the outstanding voice of Donnell Gillespie, these top hits can still be performed for our enjoyment. Such memorable, soul stirring hits were performed as Love TKO, Wake Up Everybody, The Love I Lost and I Miss You.
Affectionately, known as "Big Daddy," Gillespie's powerful baritone voice filled the room with lyrics of love as couples embraced and swayed back and forth in their seats to such momentous words as: "You're my latest, my greatest inspiration. You inspire me." Members of the audience screamed, "yes" as they joined Gillespie. The powerful lyrics of Wake Up Everybody, has been sampled by such multi-talented artist as #John Legend, due to its meaningful, timely lyrics. "Wake up everybody no more sleepin in bed / No more backward thinkin time for thinkin ahead / The world has changed so very much from what it use to be." Donnell, talked about his experiences with Harold Melvin and the eminent baritone Teddy Pendergrass, during our interview. Many are reminded and identify Gillespie's voice with Pendergrass'. This comparison does not seem to disturb Donnell, because he still maintains his own style. After his performance Gillespie answered these questions:
Angelladywriter: Do you enjoy being a performer?
Gillespie: I love it. It is my life. I have the kind of job you expire from. You don't retire from it.
Angelladywriter: What is the major focus of your tour?
Gillespie: The Essence of Teddy Pendergrass in song. This is what I live for. I was with Harold Melvin's Blue Notes about 29 years. During that time the Blue Notes created a truly distinctive sound. It became the essence of TP, when he was lead singer of the group.
Angelladywriter: Do you feel R&B is becoming a lost art?
Gillespie: I do see it as a lost art because young fellas are sampling and they are not developing their own mindsets of R&B. Everything is electronic. I would love to teach some young fellas what I know. I want to sit down and say, "this is how it is done."
Angelladywriter: Who influenced you in the music industry?
Gillespie: This is a hand me down tradition. I was taught that when I got into the group with Harold Melvin. He built me up and broke me down and made me what I am. A lot of stuff Harold went through he taught me how to get through it. Harold was an outstanding teacher for me. It is sad that some young people are not willing to learn but it is definitely not due to a lack of teachers.
Angelladywriter: What is the best advice you can give young artists today?
Gillespie: The whole thing is, hone in your craft to be the best singer you can be. Work on it day and night. I rehearse all the time. It has to be something that you want to do. I want to do this more than anything. I suggest they learn every aspect of the business. Linguistics and litigations of the business. If you are not prepared, you will not succeed and people will get over on you. It took me years to learn that. I pray daily for the blessing of this voice. Many people have the voice and you never hear from them. If Teddy Pendergrass and I, did not have Harold Melvin, we would not exist as performers. Teddy, would go to Harold and say, 'show me what you've learned' and he would teach us. I knew Teddy, when he was a teenager. At that time he was a drummer. Later, he became the lead singer for the Blue Notes, Teddy was very successful. He later changed from humbleness and Harold would call him 'Rug.' Teddy, changed from what he was to what he became.
The interview with Gillespie, ended with inspirational words of encouragement for young and older performers in the business. He had the privilege to perform with some of the world's most talented individuals. Over the years, we have immensely enjoyed their music. Life continues with memories of these songs that have affected our lives one way or the other. Upon my return to the ballroom, husbands and wives, families and friends were on the dance floor enjoying themselves. It was a though for those few hours, there was "genuine love in this disunited, violent, wicked world that is under Satan's control." Their happy faces made me wonder why these people are hated by so many in such countries as Russia, China, South Korea and some parts of Africa, where Jehovah's Witnesses work has been banned. Yet, they continue to pray for these persecutors of their beliefs. "Yes, as God's servants, we must learn to 'love our enemies,' regardless of their attitude toward us." (Watchtower, 11/15/2015, p. 25, paras 19,20) What a tremendous lesson for each of us so that we truly can become the best person we can be.
The very talented Sheila Coley, also performed during this event.
Donnell Gillespie, better known as "Big Daddy"
Donnell Gillespie Remembers Teddy Pendergrass and Harold Melvin
Gillespie, serves as lead singer for Harold Melvin's Blue Notes. He is affectionately known as "Big Daddy." Donnell, passionately began his performance with the powerful song Love TKO. Teddy Pendergrass, was known for his performance of this song. Gellispie's powerful voice captivated the room as notes of this beautiful love song touched the hearts of couples within the audience. He went on to sing a melody of popular hits such as I Don't Love You Anymore, Wake Up Everybody and The Love I Lost.
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A Memorable Performance by Teddy Pendergrass and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes from Youtube by Dawn Higgins
Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 Now That's Entertainment will feature "Stephanie Mills with Special Guest The Persuaders & Blue Magic - For tickets contact me claude
For additional information on family life or a free home Bible study, go to the website below.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses—Official Website: jw.org
Jehovah’s Witnesses: Our official website provides online access to the Bible, Bible-based publications, and current news. It describes our beliefs and organization.
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