Grammy winner Lalah Hathaway’s smooth vibe made us feel like the Knoxville Convention Center was a bluesy nightclub.
Playing catch-up here! The Urban League Gala happened during a flurry of other great events toward the end of last year, and I wanted to be sure it got the attention it deserved.
It’s actually called the Knoxville Area Urban League Equal Opportunity Awards Gala — because of the worthy companies and individuals honored each year. But folks can be forgiven for just calling it the Urban League Gala — because it truly is one of the best straight up parties of the year!
This year, singer Lalah Hathaway — daughter of soul singer Donny Hathaway — brought her five-time Grammy Award-winning talent to the party. She played a full 90-minute set — the exact song list she performed as opening act for Mary J. Blige, with whom she toured last year.
Prior to Hathaway’s performance, this year’s awards were bestowed.
Volunteer of the Year Award went to Dr. Joseph Kendrick, for his impact on and support of Urban League programs.
Minority Business Award went to B&B Services, for its economic and social impact on the community. Company owner Baffin Harper accepted the award on behalf of the company.
Corporate Leadership Award went to the Knoxville Utilities Board for its commitment to diversity and to the goals and programs of the Knoxville Area Urban League. CEO Mintha Roach accepted the award for KUB.
Lalah Hathaway, center, had a short meet-and-greet with Urban League board members prior to the show. At left is Jan Brown of TVA. At right is Avis Young of UPS.
From left, Jim Nichols, Lalah Hathaway, Phyllis Nichols and Tiffany Powell, Jim and Phyllis’ daughter. Phyllis is president and CEO of the Knoxville Area Urban League.
Getting ready for dinner were Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and his wife, Kelly.
Cheryl McKenry, left, and Polly Fisher.
Tearsa Smith, left, of WATE, was the emcee. Gwen McKenzie, right, is an Urban League board member. (Shortly after this event, she was elected to Knoxville City Council.) Photo bomber is DJ Sterling Henton, who entertained prior to the concert!
Stephanie Welch, who also was subsequently elected to Knoxville City Council, and Laurens Tullock.
Phyllis Nichols with developer Tim Graham.
Scott Bird, left, of Moxley Carmichael, and Michael Higdon.
Laura Wallace, left, and Gina Williams, both of Covenant Health.
I thought the Convention Center outdid themselves with the chicken entree.
Enjoying dinner were Penny Leverett, left, and Terry Strickland.
Cathy and Daniel Brown.
Mintha and Jon Roach.
Marty Gibbs, left, and City Councilman Marshall Stair.
Leslye and Brian Hartsell.
Frank Rosamond, left, and his son, Jack.
Emily and City Councilman Mark Campen.
Ellen Bebb, left, with her husband, City Councilman Finbarr Saunders, and Cheryl McKenry.
Dana and Daniella Dorcas.
Deanene and Tom Catani.
Chris and Amy Stokes.
John McCulley of Moxley Carmichael and Carrie Tapp.
Moxley Carmichael’s Savanna Howie and Camp Arnett.
The artistic types! Knoxville Symphony Music Director Aram Demirjian, standing, with KSO Executive Director Rachel Ford and Knoxville Museum of Art Executive Director David Butler.
Then, Lalah Hathaway took command of the evening.
Some folks crowded the stage.
Some folks danced.
Like Alan Carmichael and Emily Campen.
Tearsa Smith grabbed some good shots.
Ninety minutes just flew by!
Andrea Crouse, left, and Phyllis Nichols after the show. Andrea is Phyllis’ executive assistant at the Urban League.
Terrence Carter, left, of the Knoxville Area Urban League, and Alan Carmichael.
Moxley Carmichael staff members greet our friend and client, Mike Brown of M&M Productions. From left, Destinee Dowdy, Shaun Fulco, Mike Brown, Savanna Howie and John McCulley.