I have to let you know that the entire night, I had an ANGEL by my side; and I felt it, I knew it, and I never felt more supported or blessed or honored in my life!!! That's all I can say about that, but I need my angel to know that I was aware of it the entire time and that I am truly grateful!!!
It was so GREAT to see everyone: Cynthia, Johnny O, Debbie Deb, George Lamond, Lissette Melendez, Soave, Noel, TKA/K7, Cover Girls, Brenda K. Starr, Sal Abbatiello (booking agent, manager of Cover Girls), Sa-Fire, Corina, Coro, Carlos Berrios(producer, songwriter, movie director),Tony Moran (Latin Rascals & producer for Gloria Estefan, Luther Vandross and Barbra Streisand), Big Al (promoter) and Company B. They hysterical thing was that as the ladies of Company B were walking downstairs to the stage, one of the children of the PS 22 Chorus asked, "Are you Lady Gaga?" LOL. The girls were like, "No, we wore white wigs WAY before her!!" That is SO right!! LOL.
As I watched the show backstage, I was impressed at my peers' performances: Cynthia looked BEAUTIFUL and she sounded amazing...she looked so happy to me! Johnny O was full of excitement! Suove sounded better than he did when he first entire the freestyle arena, Corina is just as beautiful as when she first began, Brenda K. Starr, although she did not perform, was so kind and warm to me, and to me she's just a true STAR! Coro, well, he never looks or sounds bad - what a survivor he is!! Sa-Fire is just a spitfire of energy and I love her dearly as well! Watching the show was like looking through old photo albums and saying, "Wow, look how much we've grown!" I'm very proud of all of our accomplishments, and if you knew the political, ugly side of this business, you would truly admire the freestyle soldiers who fight to sing for you!
The showstopper of the night had to be during Noel's performance. You may or maynot have heard, but allow me to share. I always called Noel the Puerto-Rican James Dean of the Freestyle world!!! He never catered to anyonee's demands, and he's always been his own man. He never cared about what people thought of him, and he literally dances to his own drum. I've always loved watching him perform and I can say that as the years go on, he just gest better and better!! So, while he was performing, the screens throughout the arena captioned that Noel had not seen his twin daughters in seven years because of unfortunate circumstances, and they would be on stage to surprise him, and they'd be wearing gold. Well, you could feel the heightened anticipation, creeping with each second. People began to stand up, searching...even I, even I had to go out in the crowd to witness this reunion.
"Excuse me, ma'am," a security guard said to me, "you CANNOT stand here...this area MUST stay clear." "Please, just let me see this moment...he's my friend...he's being reunited with his daughters...just let me see this and I'll move, I promise." She gave me a dirty look and then motioned me with a "whatever" expression. And then his daughters were standing right behind him. Noel continued to sing as the audience cheered in support! And then Noel turned around, the kind of turn we all do for performance purposes, and he sang and looked at them...and there was a millisecond of silence, and he grabbed them...and like a man, a real man who hadn't seen his children in so long, he cried! He cried bravely with honesty and elation. And I cried too...yes, it was something Oprah would have done! Was it slightly exploitive? Yes...after all, it really is nonoe of our business. However, it was a real moment; a life moment that we can all relate to, and it was worth it. I hope that a lot of people called their kids when the show was over, lol...
I went backstage to change into my second outfit and redo my hair and make up. As I sat exhausted at the makeup table, someone asked me, "What are you going to do with your hair?" Hm, good question...I stared at my curling iron, and the thought of curling all the crazy hair I have seemed daunting! "I'm going to curl it..." And then I heard music to my ears from a complete stranger: "I can do your hair...I have a place in the city..besides I'm bored." Yea...joy!! And as I did my make up, he did my hair. Yes, it was a good day! LOL.
It was my turn to come onstage and well, it was a moment of joy! I was sad that the kids were gone, that my dancers had canceled on me. I didn't have a BIG amazing thing to do onstage, but I kept telling myself that I alone am enough as long as I sing my heart out! And that is what I did! I did the wop, the Roger Rabbit, and all 80s dance moves I could remember, lol. I thanked Angelo Venuto and his band, Voices to backing me...I don't know if people realized but they had been playing since 11am for everyone's sound check and then played ALL night for all of us while we were onstage!! That is pretty amazing!! My time onstage flew by and I walked off happy...that's all that mattered - that the crowd was happy. If they are happy, I am happy..but then I was asked by KTU's Cubby and Cindy to come back on stage, and I was surprised with a Lifetime Achievement Award! Cool! I was truly honored and surprised...but OUCH!!! My feet were killing me!!!
TKA/K7 were up! What an introduction and wow, what reception they received!!! There are a few people I never tire from seeing: George Lamond and TKA/K7! The crowd was deafening! I have always admired Kayel, lead singer for TKA. He's a true friend and a classy guy - at the end of his show, he thanked EVERYONE who had been part of his career, including those who he may not have relationships with anymore. He badmouthed no one, and if you knew the dirty politics, you would not blame him if he did. But he's a gentleman...and that's why he has the success that he does! I went back up a couple of times to sing with TKA, George Lamond and for the finale!
For the finale, we all sang Don't Stop Believing with George Lamond...there was pyro, there were explosions and I looked around and realized, "Wow...this is what 25 years feels like...25 years of friendship, 25 years of freestyle music that has comforted generations, and 25 years of love and blessings!" And then at the very end, there were blasts of multi-colored confetti....and it filled the entire arena. No show had ever gone that far for one of our concerts! It felt good... it truly did. It was as if we all came full circle. But wait. As the confetti blinded me, I had fleeting thoughts: the award, the 25 years...I know, I know...for a moment, I felt a fear interfere with my joy: Is this the beginning of the end? Is that how we go out - with a big bang???
It does not matter. What matters is that this music has been acknowledged. What matters is that we have lives that other people envy. What matters is that I've spend more than 1/2 my life entertaining and truly living out my dream!!! I have been honored with thte title, Queen of Freestyle!!! I have loved, I have lost; I have been paid and there has been a cost! BUT...damn, what a GREAT RIDE!!!!! Whooohoooooo!