On December 1st, 21019 (also World AIDS Day), Tony Award-winning actress Sheryl Lee Ralph hosted the 29th Annual “DIVAS Simply Singing” event at Taglyan.
The veteran stage actress, best known for being the “original Dreamgirl” because she won her Tony for her work in 1981’s Broadway production of Dreamgirls, started the DIVA Foundation in 1990 to raise awareness and remove the stigma connected to the AIDS virus.
DIVAS Simply Singing is the longest consecutive running musical AIDS benefit in the United States, and the DIVA Foundation (Divinely Inspired, Victoriously Aware) serves as a loving tribute to those diagnosed with and affected by HIV/AIDS. The goal of the organization is to erase stigma, raise awareness and promote HIV/AIDS prevention through arts and education.
In addition to the foundation’s central goals, the 29th Annual “DIVAS Simply Singing” honored Grammy, Golden Globe, Emmy winning, and 10-time Oscar nominee, songwriter Diane Warren with the DIVAS Legacy Award. Mark McBride was also honored.
Because Diane Warren was being honored, the evening’s performers sang a tribute to her biggest hits. Singers included Tony Award-nominated actor and producer Brandon Victor Dixon; drag DJ and comedian Shangela; multi-platinum selling recording artist and Grammy nominee Deborah Cox; singer, songwriter, speaker, and actress Rhonda Ross; Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Shanice; This is Us actress Chrissy Metz; Grammy-nominated recording artist and international entertainer Kathy Sledge, and singer and Empire actor Terrell Carter.
Rhonda Ross and Quencie Thomas | Image: facebook.com/quenciethomas
There were also special appearances by Brandy, Elaine Gibbs, LisaRaye McCoy, Flame Monroe, Erica Ash, Deborah Joy Winans, Parnell Damone Marcano, Frankie Grande, and William Allen Young.
Proceeds for the 29th Annual “DIVAS Simply Singing” event benefited Project Angel Food, for which Sheryl Lee Ralph serves a trustee. For 30 years, Project Angel Food volunteers and staff have cooked and delivered nutritious free meals to homes throughout Los Angeles County to alleviate hunger, prevent malnutrition, and return their clients to health.
“The community, everyone, people of all kinds of walks, faiths and beliefs just found it easy to turn their backs on people in need. The little church girl in me said, ‘We can do better than this. I can do better than this,’ ” Ralph said.
Reaching out to those in the greatest of need is also a priority of ours at Taglyan. That is why we are so proud to host events like DIVAS Simply Singing. There is nothing more important than helping others, and we salute Sheryl Lee Ralph and everything that she’s doing to help.