FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 24, 2007
UNCF News Bureau
Shawn Paul Wood
SMOKEY ROBINSON, NANCY WILSON HONORED BY UNITED NEGRO COLLEGE FUND AT ANNUAL ALL-STAR CONCERT
(Los Angeles) - The greatest talent in entertainment, education, sports and politics gathered Saturday, September 22 to honor singer-composer Smokey Robinson as he was presented with the Award of Excellence, the high point of the United Negro College Fund's (UNCF) 29th annual An Evening of Stars®: Tribute to Smokey Robinson. The event was taped at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and will air in January 2008.
"This is a never-ending journey for me," said Robinson during a backstage interview about receiving his award. "There are many worthy causes in the world, but UNCF has a special place in my heart because it's about educating our kids and benefiting the future."
Robinson received the award from UNCF president and CEO Dr. Michael Lomax and Motown founder and music industry legend Berry Gordy. Robinson's fellow entertainment legends Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin, both past recipients of UNCF's Award of Excellence, appeared on AEOS to pay tribute to the program's guest of honor.
This year's roster of presenters and performers included Anita Baker, Joss Stone, John Legend, Ne-Yo, Chris Isaak, Macy Gray, Heather Headley, Yolanda Adams, Kenny Lattimore and Chante Moore, Jimmy Fallon, Hill Harper, Shemar Moore, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Diana Ross, Martha Reeves, Kimberly Elise, Debbie Allen, LisaRaye McCoy Misick, Tichina Arnold, Tyler James Williams, Taraji Henson, Tom Joyner, Shaun Robinson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The 29th AEOS also honored the legendary song stylist and actress Nancy Wilson with UNCF's first Founder's Award for her more than 30-year involvement with the nation's largest minority scholarship fund. Her long involvement with the organization began with the "Something Special" telethon, which she hosted in the 1970s to raise funds for the UNCF and its member historically black colleges and universities. She has also served numerous times as both host and performer for the AEOS predecessor program, Lou Rawls Parade of Stars®, which was renamed An Evening of Stars® in 1998.
"I am blessed to be honored in this fashion," exclaimed an emotional Wilson. "I am a grandmother, and to know that something I have been doing can benefit my grandchildren is an honor that goes beyond my comprehension."
The Founders Award will be given annually to a popular artist whose work and service reflect a commitment to UNCF and the importance of minority higher education - the kind of commitment that led to the founding of UNCF more than 60 years ago.
Target served as the first-ever "Presenting Sponsor" of An Evening of Stars® (AEOS). National corporate sponsors of AEOS were American Airlines, Toyota, McDonald's, Wachovia and AT&T.
Returning as executive producer and director of An Evening of Stars® was five-time Emmy Award winner Louis J. Horvitz, whose credits include numerous years directing The Academy Awards, The Prime Time Emmy Awards, The Kennedy Center Honors, The ALMA Awards presented by the National Council of La Raza, and The People's Choice Awards. He has also directed The MTV Movie Awards as well as The American Film Institute (AFI) tributes to Al Pacino (2007), Sean Connery (2006), George Lucas (2005), Meryl Streep (2004) and Robert DeNiro (2003).
About An Evening of Stars®
An Evening of Stars® (AEOS)Formerly the Lou Rawls Parade of Stars® first aired in 1979, and since that time has become one of the longest running and most successful televised events in U.S. history. Lou Rawls, a spokesperson for UNCF and champion for AEOS for more than 25 years, is credited with helping raise more than $200 million for the UNCF to help UNCF scholarship recipients and member institutions and students pay the cost of higher education. This year's show, now in its 29th season, was made possible by Target, AEOS's first-ever "Presenting Sponsor," ad by national corporate sponsors American Airlines, McDonald's, Toyota, Wachovia, and AT&T. In recent years, AEOS has featured a Who's Who of recognizable talent, including Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Nancy Wilson, Beyonce, Jill Scott, Whoopi Goldberg, Fantasia, Joss Stone, Patti LaBelle, Michael Bolton, Natalie Cole, Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau, Hall and Oates, Ziggy Marley, Maroon 5, and scores of others. An Evening of Stars® received an Image Award for its 2006 tribute to Stevie Wonder. Learn more about AEOS at www.uncf.org/aeos.
As the nation's oldest and most successful minority higher education assistance organization, the United Negro College Fund's mission is to provide financial support to its 39 member institutions, increase minority degree attainment by reducing financial barriers to college, and serve as a national advocate for minority education. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 25 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship programs, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 65,000 students at over 900 colleges and universities across the country.