Norwood arrived in his Phantom Drop Head Coupe at The Norwood building (formerly a bank) at Wilshire and La Brea

*What does this all mean? Did Norwood rob a bank?

Norwood Young is an R&B singer and philanthropist, so why would he commit such a sting operation? Well, Norwood or the Gatsby as I call him is one of the most imaginative and creative party givers I have ever met.

For the release of his book “Getting Back to My Me.” Norwood literally took over the bank at 5209 Wilshire Blvd. and converted it into a 40’s lounge in black, white and silver décor to accommodate his celebrity and face book friends at his lavish book release party and concert.

The building now called “The Norwood Building” was a financial establishment which must have flourished during the days of Valentino in the golden age of Hollywood, possibly the 20’s or 30’s. The architecture is so intricate with beautiful gold motif throughout.

But on this night the theme was 40’s. Guests were requested to wear “40’s attire with a modern twist.” I saw pill box hats and zoot suits and lots of furs.

Comedian Luenell was the first to arrive in a bright red Dicker and Dicker fur, streamlined gown and lots and lots of blinding bling with her very own Valentino, hombre Vato Tony Montana who was dressed in a zoot suit. They made an eye-popping pair as paps went wild. There was a parade of stars all very chic looking. I spotted Judy Pace, Beverly Todd, fashion designers Priscy Ratcliff and Angela Dean; June Gaitlin (you may recall she was reported to be a psychic/spiritual advisor to Michael Jackson), R&B/Hip Hop singer Dvyne (dressed a la Veronica Lake with wavy long hair covering one eye) and her husband actor and fitness phenom Kali Muscle (who was dressed like Redford in the movie “The Sting”). They were another stunning power couple. Also seen were Vesta Williams, Kym Whitley, Annie McKnight and last to arrive Tichina Arnold. Even I whipped out some vintage fashions by wearing my grandmother’s 40’s fur, handbag and makeshift pill box hat.

Dvyne and Tichina Arnold were chic ladies of the evening

There was a complete bar and lots of hors d’oeuvres, all complimentary. But, the highlight of the evening was Norwood Young himself  who with a full orchestra performed  many original selections including renditions from Pieces of a Dream (his former group) as well as cover songs from Stevie Wonder to Jeffrey Osborne to Peabo Bryson. Norwood was amazing and sang the songs with his own arrangements which would have made the original artist proud. I was sitting with Beverly Todd and Judy Pace and we were screaming our lungs out like teenagers.  He held the crowd spellbound with one rendition after another that progressed into the late night.

There was a small space to the side of the stage where Angela Dean, June Gaitlin and Priscy Ratcliff found their niche. . They could not sit down but were seen dancing and swaying hypnotized by the music all night long. Later in the evening I sat with Luenell to my right and Vesta Williams on my left and we started crooning along with Norwood.

His interaction with the audience was on lock. He held everyone captive.  Every now and again he would ask, “Are you still with me.” And everyone would shout out “yes.”

At one point during his performance he asked Vesta to get up on the stage with him and she worked it. Also invited up was Tichina Arnold. I had no idea Tichina could sang. Norwood’s special guest was Alyson Williams and Karen Briggs. What Karen can do with a violin is incredible. She makes it talk.

Power couples sit together, Tony Montana, Luenell, Dvyne and Kali Muscle

After the show, there were cupcakes and cake and the book signing which took place inside of the bank vault where Norwood signed his new book “Getting Back to My Me” for guests.

Were these then the treasures of the vault?  For me the treasures are the revelations in the book. that Norwood revealed; that he was abused at the early age of 16 and the treasure is the advice in the book that he is sharing with others so it will not happen to them. Norwood says, “Tell, no matter what. tell, tell”  So many young people are afraid to expose molestation for fear someone won’t believe them. “Don’t keep secrets no matter what” is another treasured piece of advice that Norwood offers.  

Norwood feels he has survived so he can share his advice with others. He also advises to find your me. He had lost his “me” who and what he stands for. Many readers will be able to relate. He said it can be a housewife who needs to find her me. So, in essence his book is a help manual. He uses his story so others can learn from his experiences.

The treasures in the vault were the golden words that can do good. I look forward to absorbing “Getting Back to My Me.”

I encourage others to pick up a copy and do the same.

Hostess for the event: Adai Lamar from KJLH

Eugenia Wright is a former actress turned syndicated columnist/publicist. You may write to her at [email protected]

Photo Credit: Donald Carraway