Deardra Shuler and the Legendary Gloria Lynne (by P.J. Allen)

*The first annual tribute show celebrating the “Legends in Music” is in large part due to the dedication and efforts of founders Roz Nixon and partner Robb Sibarium.  The legendary Gloria Lynne was the first artist to kick-off the first annual “Celebrating Legends in Music” Awards Night.  It is the intention of the “Legends in Music” founders to make this effort the first of many tributes and awards honoring the greats in music.

One must applaud Ms. Nixon and Mr. Sibarium for striving to honor and give respect and love to those artists whose talents go down in the book of legend for all time. The Legends in Music organization is dedicated to celebrating legendary women and men for the many contributions they have made to music and the world.

The June 18th concert which honored the legendary Gloria Lynne was held at the Repertory Theatre at the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture, located at 450 Grand Concourse in the Bronx.  The tribute was nothing short of legendary, given the status of the star. Wearing dark glasses due to an eye problem, the affliction did not blind Gloria to the love that waft from the audience toward her on stage.

Unfortunately, the Repertory Theatre at the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture stage manager approached Ms. Lynne just before going on stage and asked for her list of 15 songs; songs she planned to sing during her tribute show.  After doing so, this stage manager took it upon himself to deem what songs Gloria should sing and rewrote the singer’s song list, chopping her planned songs down to 7.   When the startled legend inquired why he had done so, he told her it was the Repertory Theatre’s house rule.  Since nothing like that had ever happened to the artist in any venue throughout her career, she was shocked.  After all, she felt, when some fans buy high price tickets to see her, they deserve their monies worth.  Yet, due to the stage manager’s actions and dictates, the enduring musical star was forced to give her fans less than what she intended.  Quite naturally, having rehearsed her music lineup with her band in a certain order, the sudden change left her band confused as to what song next to perform.  All professionals however, they carried on.  When Ms. Lynne announced to her fans she had prepared 15 tunes but was told she could only sing 7, a collective groan emitted throughout the audience as an expression of their disappointment.  The crowd reconciled to the fact that this turn of events was not Ms. Lynne’s fault, so bowed to the inevitable and delighted in the songs the enduring artists did sing, which were 10 songs, despite so called house rules.

Regal in bearing and a grand dame of music, Gloria Lynne knows how to control and pace her voice to belt out notes with the best of them. Thus, regaled by the melodious tunes and musical depth of the legendary diva whose voice is as strong as ever, the audience crowded around her at her reception afterwards to express their appreciation for the legend and her music.

Singer Charlotte Doreen Small whet the appetite of the crowd as the opening act, proving she knows her way around the blues. The lady has a penchant for turning a song upside down, right side up and every which way but loose.  I could see Ms. Small standing on a Broadway stage given her range and delivery.

Deputy Bronx Borough President Aurelia Greene and Councilmen Larry Seabrook attended the tribute and were not short on praise for the glorious Ms. Gloria as they honored her as one of the Legends of Music. They recognized Ms. Lynne’s contribution to music by presenting her with a plaque. It wasn’t hard to disagree with their accolades while listening to Ms. Lynne harmonize songs like “The House on the Hill,” “I’m Glad There Is You,” “Joey, Joey,” “He Needs Me,” “I Thought About You” and her signature song “I Wish You Love.”  Lynne, whose career has spanned over 60 years, was one of the first chanteuse to be listed on the Pop, Jazz, and R&B charts simultaneously.

A tribute poem was written for the star by her long time lyricist and friend Ann Rubino.

Since time did not allow it to be read during the show.  I post it here:

“A Tribute to Gloria Lynne”

She’s a jazz diva with style and grace

She’s a national treasure in the United States

She’s a singer’s singer among all her peers

She’s timeless, and ageless for all of her years

She sings from her soul, and penetrates your heart

She sacrificed everything for the sake of her art

She can paint you a picture with words from a song

transforming your life as she goes along

Her phrasing is awesome, melodious too

She stands with the best she’s one of a few

Gloria was always ahead of her time

Her vocal interpretations, her reason, and rhyme

She’s a living legend whose humble in her way

She’s strong, and she’s tender beyond words can say

Her accomplishments are many for all she has done

She’s creative, and caring, and loves having fun

All of this, and more are known to be true

And that is why I say,

I’m Glad There Is You…

I think Ms. Rubino’s tribute poem speaks for all of those who have enjoyed the music of Ms. Lynne throughout the years.