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...
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!