Yolanda Adams, Dianne Reeves And More Sing The Praises Of The 'Genius Of Soul' At NJPAC's Spotlight Gala
The Women's Association of NJPAC is marking its 25th anniversary with a star-studded edition of the Arts Center's Spotlight Gala on Saturday, September 28th at NJPAC in Newark.
This annual spectacular, one of the largest fundraisers in New Jersey, will celebrate the music of the legendary Ray Charles, who headlined the very first Women's Association of NJPAC Spotlight Gala in 1996.
The evening begins with cocktails and a dinner curated by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, whose Marcus B&P has electrified the Newark restaurant scene, at 5:30 p.m. The concert follows at 8:30 p.m., and an after-party - featuring tunes spun by DJKISS on an outdoor dance floor, plus NJPAC's famously lavish Dessert Spectacular - will light up Newark well into the night.
The heart of the evening is an all-star concert in tribute to R&B, soul and gospel legend Ray Charles, who gave the world such hits as "Georgia on My Mind," "I Can't Stop Loving You," "Hit the Road, Jack" and many more. Charles' performance at the inaugural Spotlight Gala, held at a hangar at Newark International Airport, announced the Arts Center's arrival on New Jersey's artistic and social scene well before the theater opened its doors.
"Brother Ray has had a very special place in the hearts of everyone at NJPAC since that incredible night," says John Schreiber, President and CEO of the Arts Center.
"We're excited to bring together stars of gospel, R&B and Broadway to salute his brilliance, his wonderful songs and the unforgettable role he played in making the Arts Center a reality."
Yolanda Adams, a five-time GRAMMY Award-winning gospel legend, with 13 albums in her catalog, is one of the acclaimed musicians who will perform Charles' music at the concert. Adams has earned numerous accolades for her passionate singing, including the first American Music Award for Contemporary Gospel Artist and four Gospel Music Association Dove Awards. Her pioneering blend of modern gospel and R&B, infused with a touch of jazz, inspires both gospel fans and jazz lovers alike
She'll be joined by multiple GRAMMY Award-winner and renowned jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves, whose albums include I Remember, The Grand Encounter, The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan, and A Little Moonlight. Reeves is one of the country's most celebrated jazz vocalists, and a frequent, beloved performer on NJPAC's stages.
Bringing his signature blend of Broadway sounds and pop energy, Jarrod Spector, who was nominated for both a Tony and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his performance as Barry Mann in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, will join these remarkable women. (Fans of Jerseyana take note: Spector also played a record-breaking 1,500 performances as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys on Broadway.)
And Davell Crawford, the keyboardist, vocalist, composer and arranger known as the "Piano Prince of New Orleans," will be on hand to blend as many genres as the Genius himself did: Modern and classic jazz, rhythm and blues, funk, gospel, soul, pop, American folk and touches of country-western all mingle in his signature style.
This galaxy of stars will perform Charles' most beloved tunes, all under the baton of Ray Chew, currently in his ninth season as the music director for ABC's Dancing with The Stars.
As a special treat, the show will kick off with a performance of scenes from The Tap Dance Kid, featuring 25 astonishingly talented young performers, directed by tap legend Savion Glover. A Newark native himself, Glover made his Broadway debut in the show in 1985, as an 11-year-old dance phenom. Today, he is an NJPAC Board Member and the Performing Art Center's Dance Advisor, who annually runs a summer musical theater residency for teens at NJPAC.
Tickets are available at multiple price-points: Tickets to the all-star concert celebration are $50. Party people can enjoy a full night of fun, and support NJPAC's arts education programs for Newark children, with a $250 ticket to the performance, the after-party with DJKISS and the Dessert Spectacular.
Individual tickets for the Gala - including the Marcus Samuelsson dinner, the concert and after-party - start at $1,000, and tables start at $15,000. Please contact the Women's Association at (973) 353-7043 for reservations.
The fundraiser is the cornerstone of a year-long celebration of the Women's Association of NJPAC's 25th anniversary of fundraising and advocacy, which has contributed in countless ways to the Arts Center's mission of providing access to an education in the performing arts to all New Jersey children, and ensuring that downtown Newark is a vibrant and exciting destination. Since its establishment in June of 1994, the WA has raised more than $52 million in support of NJPAC and its educational programming.
This year's Gala co-chairs are Mindy A. Cohen, Vice President, Women's Association of NJPAC; and Debbie Dyson, President, ADP National Account Services. Both Ralph Izzo, Chairman, President and CEO of PSEG, and Ralph LaRossa, President and Chief Operating Officer of PSEG Power, will be presented with the Founders Award. Ralph Izzo is currently a member of the NJPAC Board of Directors.