NEW YORK (NNPA)—Smiling broadly, the spirited petite woman named Sylvia weaved through the ballroom crowd at the Sheraton New York Hotel, holding a camera ready to aim. She snaps two or three pictures; then excitedly heads back to her seat, leaning back into her husband’s arm.
After only a moment, she bounces back up and heads back toward the stage.
Tapped on the back by a friend trying to greet her, she suddenly swings around, her face beaming.
Yelling over the jamming music of Eddie Levert, the lead singer of the O’Jays, she says, “Oh, I’m fine, girl! I’m here! And Eddie is here! And I am having a good time!”
Once again she disappears into the crowd toward the stage. Her husband relaxes at the table, chuckling at her enthusiasm.
It was a fun—even thrilling—moment during an otherwise issue-driven National Newspaper Publishers Association’s 70th Anniversary Convention. After sessions filled with strategic talk of breaking the back of advertising discrimination and other types of racism, this was the time to party.
And party they did as Eddie Levert, as soulful as ever, was the featured entertainer during the first Legacy of Excellence Dinner and Gala.
His electrifying performance brought the most serious Black publishers, Sylvia—the wife of an associate publisher—and other gala guests out of their seats after a sumptuous candlelit dinner.
Charlene Crowell, a financial writer, leaned to the side, rocking with a bounce to the beat. They danced to his many hits: “Love Train, “For the Love of Money,” and “Backstabbers,” to name a few, as Levert, never missing a bit, glistened with sweat while flowing smoothly from a dance beat to a love song.
Levert also performed the hit single that he co-wrote and performed with his late son, Gerald, “Baby Hold on to Me,” which took everyone down memory lane. Desert was served and the dancing continued at the after-party.
“Eddie Levert really energized the dinner crowd,” recalled convention chairman Cloves Campbell, publisher of the Arizona Informant. “His cool, smooth music was an excellent end to an exciting event. This was probably one of the best NNPA events I have ever attended. Our sponsors really enjoyed the entire conference. Chairman Danny Bakewell and our NNPA staff are to be commended.”