Respect and admiration was the theme at the Microsoft Theater at LA Live in Downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday night as dozens of celebrities participated in an all-star 85th birthday salute to music legend Quincy Jones. Although his actual birthday was March 14th, this special tribute was recorded and will air in December on BET.
Oprah Winfrey, who first gained national fame as Sophia in the Jones-produced movie, “The Color Purple,” headlined the event. She made two on-screen appearances: one on stage and another from the audience standing next to the musical genius, as she paid homage to her longtime friend.
The two sat side-by-side during the entire show. Oprah was seen having a great time moving to the beats of Jones’ music performed by various artists including Stevie Wonder, Brian McKnight, Fantasia, Jennifer Hudson, Ledisi, Gregory Porter and Meghan Trainor.
Gospel music great Yolanda Adams brought the house down with her soulful renditions of “Many Rains Ago” and “Oh, Lord Come By Here,” two staple songs from Jones’ “Roots” TV mini-series soundtrack. The orchestra, led by Greg Phillinganes, performed the music icon’s TV theme songs from “Perry Mason” and “Sanford & Son,” as well as movie music such as “Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister)” from “The Color Purple,” much to the delight of Oprah and pop singer Charlie Puth, who was spotted in the audience.
Usher, Danny Glover, comedian Dave Chappelle, and rapper/actors Ludacris and LL Cool J, presented spoken tributes to him. And Will Smith, via a pre-recorded video clip, said Jones is the absolute reason for his success beginning with his role on the TV series, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. He said while at a party at Jones’ home where a bunch of NBC execs had gathered, Jones insisted he do an impromptu audition which landed him the role that would change his life forever.
The event chronicled some lesser known facts from Jones’ illustrious career including the life-threatening brain aneurysm he suffered in 1974. His family believed he was dying and started planning a memorial service for him which eventually took place.
A second surprise story is that his first hit was Lesley Gore’s iconic mid-1960s song, “It’s My Party.” And another of her chart-toppers, “You Don’t Own Me” were two of the four million-selling songs he produced for her while serving as A&R director of Mercury Records
Jones also worked with such legendary artists as Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, Ray Charles, Lena Horne and Frank Sinatra.The evening’s music ranged from jazz to gospel to pop as Ne-Yo performed a couple of Michael Jackson’s songs including “Human Nature” and “Rock With You,” as he had the crowd on its feet swaying from side to side. With his left foot in a walking boot after breaking it two days earlier,
Ne-Yo said there was no way he’d miss this tribute, even if he lost his foot.After from parting words Jones, the winner of 27 Grammys from a record 79 nominations, the event ended with Gladys Knight singing “Home,” a song made famous in The Wiz, a Broadway show produced by Jones. A large contingency of family and friends that included his doctor were present to enjoy the love shown to the man simply called Q.Veteran TV producer Kenneth Ehrlich, known for producing the Grammys for over 30 years, served as executive producer.
The evening’s music ranged from jazz to gospel to pop as Ne-Yo performed a couple of Michael Jackson’s songs including “Human Nature” and “Rock With You,” even with his left foot in a walking boot after breaking it two days earlier.
Gloria Estefan and her daughter Emily, who is Jones’ goddaughter, performed a duet together. And Patti Austin, another of his goddaughters, performed hers and James Ingram’s signature song, “Baby, Come To Me.” In Ingram’s absence, she sang hers and his parts as the audience laughed hearing her playfully switch from soprano to tenor and back to soprano.
After from parting words Jones, the winner of 27 Grammys and a record, 79 nominations, the event ended with Gladys Knight singing “Home,” a song made famous in “The Wiz,” a broadway show produced by Jones. A large contingency of family and friends that included his doctor were present to enjoy the love shown to the man simply called Q.
Veteran TV producer Kenneth Ehrlich, known for producing the Grammys for over 30 years, served as executive producer.
A documentary on Jones’ life, simply called Quincy is currently airing on Netflix. See the trailer below:
PHOTO: PR Photos
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