Speaking of fire, who best to bring more of it to the stage than Keith Thompson? With a saucy set that took his conscious hit single Africa In your Veins and sandwiched it next to “Face Down,” the crowd-pleasing aural romp around everyone's favorite topic – SEX, Thompson proved he's still among the biz's best by delivering a foot-stirring performance that got the crowd going again. Find both tracks on his full-length LONG TIME COMING, available on his own imprint Waking Monster. Finally in the home stretch (jojoflores was last reported on the GWB at 9:15pm and Louie was making his way from Spirit), it was time to present the top awards for the night. Returning to the stage, EMan celebrated his friend and find jojoflores – whose second win in the DJ of the Year (International) category, was another landslide affair. His support of this program, his long-running therapy weekly (now playing in five cities and counting) and his overall commitment to bringing soulful dance music around the globe are just a few reasons he's truly earned this honor. Can he do it again next year? Only you can decide… so stay tuned and let's see. 


Even though Lifetime Achievement Winner Kenny Dope (with a last-minute mere votes win to snatch the victory from Steve “Silk” Hurley) was no-show on stage, at least one Master At Work said thanks as Louie Vega appeared in person for the first time. To present his Producer of the Year award we recruited beautiful Elements Of Life band member Queen Aaminah fresh from her first world tour with the group and as a surprise. Louie's poignant speech and sharp outfit held the crowd's rapt attention. He even said a few words for his partner allowing for Kenny's shy nature, but deep gratitude for the honor. With the full Louie posse in effect he made sure to thank all those who've helped him get here from his family, friends and peers, to you – all his global fans. Totally worth the wait, and for showing a heart so big we officially retired the “Little” from his name at our event! Thanks so much for taking the time Louie. To close the show, Miss Patty took the stage to perform her hit “Deep (House Music)” and previewing her upcoming Sole Channel Music release “You Ain't Treating Me Right.” Belting out her soon to be classics before a crowd that had swelled to include Frankie Knuckles, Terry Hunter, Joe Claussell, Carlos Sanchez, the Newlite Muzik Family and the Media Services NYC family among many other bold-faced names. Thanks for all that industry support and thanks to you all. Stay tuned for next year's event when we step things up again – r u in it? 
CHOICE Awards Version 3.0 was a test of the adage “three times the charm” and for us, it really was. After one great year and another not so great year, we were anticipating something totally different. In our new space at the Union Square Ballroom Lounge and with incredible industry star power continuing to show their support, the CHOICE Awards maintained its course in a very new direction indeed. Of course there were glitches and more than a little drama along the way (which you know I'm telling, so stay tuned below), but the best part was when the show finally opened – just as I had imagined it would, with a crew of dancers performing to Markus Enochson and EMan's "MUSICAL PRAYER." Before we get to that, though, it's all about the shout-outs and thanks to those that without whom, this is not possible.


As usual, the first props go to my webmasters Zuna Media. We never thought we'd make it so far but what we've learned together will enrich me for the rest of my life! To Jemal C who finally delivered the first version of the actual CHOICE Award while holding me down, taking pictures and running around all night. Next year, I promise the load will be lighter but thanks for absolutely everything. Thanks to 3x UA.com CHOICE Award-winning (he always forgets to say that!) promoter Robbi and to the members of our Executive Planning Committee who added to the flavor with top selections. Thanks to our co-resident DJ Donna Edwards (rising above unmentioned BS – F them, man!) who arrived fresh from her London, UK debut at Fabric Nightclub, played the entire show and helped the ailing Ambrosia sing right on cue. Don't know how you always manage not to get photographed but this proves you were really there. Thanks to venue sponsor and new mentor Jellybean Benitez who's teaching me volumes about the music business and supporting my growth. Now, let's just make sure I get drink tickets before 10pm next year or there will be a riot!


Veteran photographers Tina Paul and Roy Morrison really delivered with beautiful exhibits, thanks to them for representing club culture so well. Luis Kee, thanks for letting us help heal you on the heels of losing your mother. Even though you had to bring in reinforcements (thanks Maggie) it was nice to have you in the house. Keith Thompson, Lorenzo Tyler and Miss Patty thanks for dealing with the woeful sound and serving the best live show that room's seen. To Ambrosia, thanks for coming out and letting the room know why you couldn't sing. That was very classy and helped keep my butt out of the fire. To my spirited opening dancers Lawrence, Dez and Eddie S who answered my prayers in less than 24 hours to set the show off perfectly. This year we get to thank actual event sponsors including Keith Thompson, Big Moe Records (hey Christina), Maurice Bernstein from Giant Step and again the Union Square Ballroom. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Last but not least, the biggest thanks go to all the nominees, voters, winners and party people that made this a great event and who who give me the strength to carry on with their participation and attendance. Let's get started...
Next up, Deli-G stepped to the stage to accept his Best Radio Show award for his long-running "The Touch" weekly show from UK ex-patriot, Tyrone Francis. The crowd, who were honored that he made it across the pond to accept in person, appreciated Deli's humility and humor. Thanks to another scheduling conflict, he was off to spin at our former CHOICE Awards home at Opaline but it was cool to have him nonetheless. For the last award of this segment, we recruited another random attendee and welcomed Ian Rock to help celebrate the undisputed champ for Best Retail and On-line store – DanceTracks. Stepping up to accept for Label of the Year winner Large and for his own third consecutive DanceTracks win, store owner Stefan Prescott weighed in with sincere thanks to the voting public as well as our little program allowing the audience to hear yet another industry elite speak from their heart. That one meant a lot to us too.

Around about now, things started to derail a bit as a couple of the top winners were still missing in action and the drink tickets to cool our crew were also absent (ok, that really sucked) – making my butterflies start to flutter. Driving himself from Canada, jojoflores was still on the road and Louie Vega was still partying at the aforementioned Hall of Fame. Time to stall a bit, so Donna Edwards went back to the music and got the room dancing for a brief session of mixed beats.

Once we got them all worked up, we chilled them out with the next round of presentations for the planned missing in action winners. Representing for Azuli Records where the CHOICE: TONY HUMPRIES CD won for Best Compilation, Jon Martin (King Street) read the prepared remarks from label head David Piccioni. Next, Jemal C stepped to the stage to rep for Best Dance Writer winners, Straight No Chaser's  Karl Injex and Tyler Askew by reading their prepared speech. Thanks for taking the time to respond winners and glad we could add your voices to the mix. Moving things along, unbeaten website Deep House Page was repped by local hostess, Shalewa McCall who extended site founder G-Man's gratitude and commitment to excellence that will lead ground zero's home base for all things dance into the future. Then it was time to honor our DJ of the Year, the ever-unpredictable EMan. Longtime Bang The Party partner and friend Lorie Caval, took the stage with a written speech that summed up the well-known greatness of EMan's talent. The honoree didn't disappoint with another controversial acceptance discourse that got the room murmuring. Which is all good brother cause without you – we'd have no spice, so thanks for keeping things hot regardless.
In from the windy city, your CHOICE for Best Emerging Talent, Julius the Mad Thinker appeared in person to accept his honor from a currently relocated Chicagoan friend – Kristen. Who says it's not a small world after all? When it comes to hot talent, he's one of the best so keep an ear out for what he'll be up to in 2005 with 3degress Global and beyond. Rounding out the segment, we welcomed another consecutive winner to the stage with another surprise presenter. Kim Lightfoot  (Afterlife / Journey / TIS) journeyed back from New Jersey to present Robbi with the Promoter of the Year award and told the story of his first time working with the now legendary hype man. Never missing an opportunity to shine in the spotlight, Robbi took his time behind the mike and showed his three times winning charm to all assembled.

To break things up, we featured our first performer of the evening who was pinch-hitting for us once again. Bringing back the “Spirit of the Dance” along with some new material, Lorenzo Tyler sang his soul out for the ailing Ambrosia. We appreciate his eleventh-inning save more than we can say. To kick off the next segment of awards, we brought the extra lovely Ultra Naté to the stage to honor fellow Southern soulster DJ Pope with Album of the Year for his debut full-length DJ Pope and D-Soul Presents the Family. Looking stunning as always, Ultra was one of the few attendees doing double duty at the Dance Music Hall of Fame event going on uptown. Right after exiting the stage and a few shots, she was off like a shot to present at the Hall of Fame.
That performance set us up nicely for the first segment of awards, which – believe it or not, were only about fifteen minutes late in starting. Tight schedules thanks to other events around town meant that CHOICE Award winner Donnie (Song of the Year – “Cloud 9” (Quentin Harris Remix) had to be quickly and capably represented by Giant Step co-founder Maurice Bernstein (with lovely wife Leslie, secretly pregnant with their second child!!) before he jetted off to his own live event. Shout out to Quentin for presenting the award and for Maurice making time to replace Donnie who couldn't join us from Atlanta. What a coup that would have been, but I digress. Next up, we pulled a face from the crowd and put him on stage to present the third straight win for Best Club and Party to Shelter. Thanks to shy up-and-comer Master Kev for getting over his stage fright and helping us celebrate the longest running soiree and venue in the culture. Shout out to Freddy Sanon who took the stage to say a few words of sincere thanks and with most of the Shelter crew in tow and mingling. Obviously we miss the Maestro himself, Timmy Regisford but we won't insist till it's five wins in a row. You've been warned…
Despite my best efforts to plan ahead, we still had tons of trouble contacting artists in advance, promoting the event and doing a walk-through of the space (finally accomplished a mere five days before the night) but somehow, we made it through. Thanks to Kim Santoro and Mia T who helped out with some of the preparation this year. But on the day, we were still getting cancellation calls. The first from an ailing Ambrosia whose last-minute laryngitis kept her from performing and the second from my own printer, which after running out of ink – ended the production of my own photo exhibit. Sorry guys but like I said, thanks to Tina and Roy who represented wonderfully. Tina's oversize show highlighted women in the business featuring vintage looks at Grace Jones, Debbie Harry, Amanda Lepore and even RuPaul among others. Roy's classic club pictures explored Shelter through the years and offered another view inside this seminal party's history. But setting the tone of this year's event were the dancers – Dez, Lawrence and Eddie S, who kicked us into high gear with their spirited performance to the timeless neo-classic, “Musical Prayer.” Another of the show's projects that didn't find advance support, this talented crew practiced for the first time in the hall outside the Ballroom. Their moves gave life to the track's anthemic lyrics that celebrate the love, joy and healing qualities of music. The only thing to make that better would have been EMan performing live. A thousand thanks to them for answering my musical prayer with so much feeling!

choice awards III

                                         ...the breakthrough


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