I had not seen Lamonte McLemore in about 21 years and was looking forward to seeing him again and was also looking forward to meeting his mom, wife and other artists.
I arrived in St. Louis late afternoon on March 17th and settled in at the hotel and stepped out to get some last minute things done.
The next morning I was across the Moonrise Hotel owned by Joe Edwards, who also was the presenter of the awards. I arrived one hour early to ensure I did not miss a thing!
Shortly after getting there, I ran into Robert-Allan Arno who is the group's biographer and we proceeded to join Lamonte and his wife Mieko in their room at the Moonrise Hotel.
Lamonte McLemore & Tania-Maria
It was such a joy to see Lamonte's smiling face. He still has that warm and friendly smile and is still a jokester at heart. We gave each other a big bear hug and exchanged a few words and I took the opportunity to gift him with St. Louis Native Sons, which is a beautiful illustration by our very own Andre Harris.
He was mesmerized... It is very special for it celebrates the three friends who grew up together in St. Louis and it is also a gift in Ron's memory.
Mieko, Lamonte's wife since 1996, who was speaking to other guests, joined us, and I had a chance to finally meet her in person, for I had only spoken to her over the phone.
I used most of the Japanese I know... ohayō gozai masu (Good Morning!)
The festivities were about to start, so we headed across the street as chairs, fans and the media were all waiting for Lamonte and Billy. Lamonte's 96 year old mom sweet Mrs. June McLemore, Lamonte's sister, Ron's grandson, "Sho-Tyme" and niece Karla Townson and many other family members were in attendance.
By that time Joe Edwards was ready to start, the sun had also made it's way through the clouds, warning up this historical day. Mieko, Billy and Lamonte sat in the front row and I and Robert-Allan were right behind them.The first plaque was presented to Jarred Townson (Sho-Tyme), who is a Rap and R&B artists and he received the award on his grandfather's behalf. Then Lamonte and then Billy received their plaques.Sadly Marilyn McCoo had a accident a few days prior. She tripped on a rug, fell and broke her hip and Florence LaRue, had a previous engagement in Florida. According to Billy, Marilyn is healing well and will be just fine!
So it was wonderful to see St. Louis Native Sons receive their award plaques in their home town and the star honoring The Fifth Dimension, a six time Grammy award winning vocal group, which has been blessing us with beautiful soulful music since 1965, was finally shinning at 6164 Delmar Blvd.Jarred & Tracy Townson, Billy Davis Jr. and Tania-Maria After the ceremony I was invited to a private luncheon, at the Eclipse restaurant at the Moonrise Hotel, which lasted for about a couple of hours. I was able to get some interviews, promote Andre Harris, whose illustration was a huge hit, promote our calendar, meet and invite a few talented artists.
The next evening, Lamonte had his photo exhibit as a celebration of his 50 years as a photographer capturing the world's beauty and some of his Jet Beauty of the Week models, which I was one...back in 1989. I was so happy to see our very own Daniel Hodges and wife Deneen and that made the event even more special to me. Lamonte McLemore and Daniel Hodges are a couple of the artists who contributed to the 2011 Calendar for Haiti.
Deneen Hodges, Tania-Maria and Daniel Hodges
So, this was such a wonderful trip! A chance to see a friend, meet new ones and promote our network.
I created a YouTube channel and plan to continue adding my videos taken of our talented members and encourage you to subscribe to it.Please join me and co-host John Wood, this March 25 at BlogTalkRadio.com/ColoredPeople at 9pm CST as I bring you a tribute to The 5th Dimension by sharing some of the interviews and the group's inspiring music. I was very happy to meet and interview some of the Sumner High alumni. Sumner High school was the first high school for African American students west of the Mississippi established in 1875. Lamonte and Ron attended Sumner and some of the school's alumni were there to celebrate, seen below.
Thank you all for being part of our family and thank you for helping promote our calendar, which will be an annual project.
Blessings to you and yours.
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