Grandmaster Flash, Lynn Swann get NEED's 50th Anniversary Gala jumpin'
“I thought, if we're not going to get the top local DJ, let's go to the top of the mountain,” said event chair Janis Burley Wilson during the 50th Anniversary Gala for NEED.
Judging by the buzz at the August Wilson Center on Oct. 19, the impending arrival of legendary Grandmaster Flash was causing some serious reconsideration of any plans to pack it in early.
“I am on call tonight. I have to pick up my son at 10, so I have until 9:30 .... OK, maybe 9:40,” laughed Evan Frazier, who, along with Rabbi Harold Silver (also NEED's founding president), Dr. Herman Reid, Pete Mendes, Goldia Dargan Hodgdon, and Mt. Ararat Baptist Church, were being honored by a crowd of 200.
Even before the evening had officially begun, anticipation was running high as guests made their way to the center, which was brilliantly illuminated with 345 luscious green and purple lights. A design collaboration between Martin Potoczny and Sean Gray International with a floral assist from Bill Chisnell Productions, all signs pointed toward good times ahead for the likes of prexy Dr. Marcia Sturdivant, Dr. Dorothy Browne, Claudette and Dr. Harold Lewis, Mel andTiAnda Blount, Eustace Uku, Ian Rawson and emcee Harold Hayes.
Following a seated dinner from Rania's Catering, the party shifted gears for a program to highlight the key players committed to “Unlocking the Power of Education” since 1963; $23 million in scholarships for 20,000 black students, to be exact. It also included a memorial tribute to former prez Sylvester Pace, whose widow, Rhonda, and daughters, Stephanie and Rachel, were in attendance.
“NEED is what it is because we all have worked together,” said board chair Candi Castleberry-Singleton.
Business taken care of, the party slowly began to move back upstairs to where the Grandmaster was waiting. Fresh off a flight from New York City, he was, oddly enough, greeted by a room full of revelers who morphed into wallflowers that not even he could peel off.
And that's when Castleberry-Singleton, Sturdivant and Burley Wilson came along. Warming to the idea of cutting it loose, a few emboldened souls were finally enticed out onto the dance floor. But the real moment of truth came when Charena Swann managed to get her husband, Steelers Hall of Famer Lynn Swann, out on the dance floor. Once Swanny started showing off his moves, no one else could resist.
“There you go, Pittsburgh. There's some pep in your step,” the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame DJ said.
Kate Benz is the social columnist for Trib Total Media and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-380-8515.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s Spring Hat Luncheon arrives with sunny bonnets and blue skies
- Flash!: Cattle Baron’s Ball Wine and Boot Bash; Founders Day gala
- Pittsburgh Public Theater’s gala boasts Vegas-style glam
- Midwife Center’s ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ fundraiser in Strip District a tempting treat
- ToonSeum’s Ka-Blam! fundraiser charms in Lawrenceville