Evening Under the Stars: Put On Your Dancing Shoes in Support of AIDS Assistance Program

Since its founding in 1991, AIDS Assistance Program of Palm Springs remains dedicated to providing nutritional support to improve the quality of the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS. Initiated by a small group of concerned citizens led by the late Gloria Greene and Jeannette Rockefeller, AAP provides food to members of the community with low incomes. It’s what we do, and in fact, it is all we do.

Only two employees manage AAP from a small office in Palm Springs. A Board of Directors, all volunteers, works to raise funds to support the organization and its food voucher program. Our budgeted food voucher expense alone is $600,000 annually, and 100% of operational expenses are generated through a growing private donor base, local business support, special events, and grant funding.

On May 3, 2014, those efforts will culminate with the 21st annual Evening Under the Stars fundraising gala, which has long been distinguished as one of the most memorable annual events taking place in the Coachella Valley, and is considered by many to be the unofficial finale of the desert event season. Guests mingle under the canopy of stars on the O’Donnell golf course, set against the soaring San Jacinto Mountains.

Our 2014 event promises to offer some amazing entertainment: a performance by the First Ladies of Disco. Linda Clifford, France Joli, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Maxine Nightingale, Pamala Stanley, Anita Ward, Martha Wash, and the ladies formerly of Chic: Alfa Anderson, Luci Martin, and Norma Jean, will all take the stage at this star-studded affair.

This is the first time ever that this group of women performed on the same stage. Never before in the history of Evening Under the Stars have we had the variety of talent and hit music makers that will take the stage this year. These ladies are synonymous with one of the most unforgettable periods in music, and we know our guests will be wowed by an unforgettable performance.

The evening will also feature an awards presentation to honor outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions in the fight against HIV / AIDS. This year’s honorees include: James Houston and Harold Matzner (Jeannette Rockefeller Humanitarian Award), Dr. John Stansell (Gloria Greene Inspiration Award), Steve Kaufer (Joanna Jakway Community Hero Award), and Rabbi Sally Olins and Joyce Shampeny (Herb Lazenby Community Service Award).

I hope you will consider joining us for this very special evening. We welcome you and your contributions, with open arms and grateful hearts.

Eisenhower Medical Center is this year’s presenting sponsor, and additional major sponsors include Trio and The Purple Room, Desert Oasis Healthcare, and The Auen Foundation. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.

Mark Anton is Executive Director of AIDS Assistance Program.

For more information about the organization, to volunteer, or to make a donation, call 760-325-8481 or go to www.aidsassistance.org.

IF YOU GO

Evening Under the Stars
May 3 at 5:30 PM
O’Donnell Golf Course Palm Springs CA
Info: www.aidsassistance.org

 

AIDS Assistance Program 2014 ‘Evening Under The Stars’ Honorees

“Each of these individuals exemplifies the meaning of giving, and they have all been instrumental in helping to shape our organization and allow us to grow over the years,” says Mark Anton, CEO/Executive Director of AIDS Assistance Program. “Without them, it would be nearly impossible to carry out our mission of supporting the nutritional needs of those living with HIV/AIDS in our community, and we look forward to this special evening when we will get the chance to show our gratitude.”

Jeannette Rockefeller Humanitarian Award recipients James Houston and Harold Matzner

James Houston

James Houston’s name is synonymous with giving. Houston is a successful multi-faceted entrepreneur, with a career in real estate development that spanned more than 40 years. Known for his fundraising efforts and contributions here in the valley, and over the years, has raised large sums for countless Coachella Valley organizations, including AIDS Assistance Program, FIND Food Bank, Stroke Recovery Center, Angel View Crippled Children’s Foundation, and other nonprofits in need of support.

Harold Matzner

Entrepreneur, humanitarian, and philanthropist, Harold Matzner has made his home in the desert for nearly 30 years. Matzner is credited with revitalizing the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and founding the successful business concept of targeted “shared mail.” Beginning his sixth year as Chairman of the Board of the McCallum Theatre, and is Chairman of the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Among the many local charities benefiting from his philanthropic efforts are Shelter from the Storm, and AIDS Assistance Program.

Gloria Greene Inspiration Award recipient  Dr. John Stansell

Dr. John Stansell is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Pulmonary Disease. An HIV Specialist through the American Academy of HIV Medicine, Dr. Stansell is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and served for four years as acting chief and 13 years as medical director for the Positive Health Program (UCSF HIV Services) at San Francisco General Hospital. Honors for Dr. Stansell include The Leadership Award, American Academy of HIV Medicine; and Heroes in Medicine Award, International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care.

Joanna Jakway Community Hero Award recipient Steve Kaufer

Steve Kaufer began to support non-profit organizations at a very young age, when he and his friends would stage magic shows and carnivals to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation. Later, he served on the board of that organization’s Southern California Chapter. Steve has supported and been involved with AIDS organizations since the early days of the epidemic, serving on the board of the Desert AIDS Project for ten years beginning in the 1980’s, and rejoining that board in 2007.

Herb Lazenby Community Service Award recipients Rabbi Sally Olins and Joyce Shampeny

Rabbi Sally Olins

Rabbi Sally Olins received her Master’s Degree in Jewish Philosophy and was ordained as a Conservative Rabbi in 1989. One of Rabbi Sally’s greatest accomplishments was serving as one of 13 editors of the current edition of Etz Hayim, the Hebrew bible. In addition, Rabbi Sally was the first woman in the 102-year history of the Rabbinical Assembly of the Pacific Southwest Region to serve as its president. Known simply as Temple Isaiah’s ‘Rabbi Sally’ around Palm Springs and the desert cities, you will find her actively supporting charities ranging from animal shelters to AIDS Assistance Program.

Joyce Shampeny

Joyce Shampeny is a longtime supporter of AAP. Through her work as manager of the Baccarat boutique in Palm Desert, many of the valley’s charities, Desert Cancer Foundation, The McCallum Theater, Stroke Recovery Center, Gilda’s Club, Bighorn Behind a Miracle, and others have received donated Baccarat awards and products for numerous awards ceremonies.

 

Delightful Divas
Conversing with the 1st Ladies of Disco

By Chris Astrala

It was the time of Studio 54, Saturday Night Fever, platform-shoes, glitter, and glitz and good times. We’re talking about the age of Disco. Where discothèques were the places to be and these ladies reigned supreme. On May 3 AAP & Evening Under the Stars takes us back to the time  of Boogie Nights and afro picks with an out of this world performance by The First Ladies of Disco. We were very fortunate to sit down with these ladies and ask them a few questions about the upcoming event and why their music has endured for so long.

First of all, a little awe struck to be in the presence of such Disco Royalty and yes I was around to dance to your hits when they first hit the airwaves and clubs; so thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to speak to The Standard. So ladies…

Which one of your hits is your favorite and why? 

Alfa Anderson

My favorite hit is I Want Your Love. The lyric makes a bold statement, Bernard’s bass line establishes the groove, Nile’s trademark guitar riffs take everything up a notch, and the bells and the string lines are just classic.

Linda Clifford

“If My Friends Could See Me Now.” That was the song that really got my career started. It gave me the life, the joy, and the chance to do what I love so much and always wanted to do, which is sing.

Martha Wash

Probably “Carry On.” A lot of people have been touched by that song, which in turn touches me.

France Joli

Which one of your hits is your favorite and why? I have two favorites for two different reasons—and they just happen to be the songs I’ll sing at Evening Under the Stars. “Come To Me” will always have a special place in my heart. Not only for the beautiful melodies and arrangements, but also for the success it gave me at the young age of 16. My second favorite, “Gonna Get Over You,” is probably the funkiest song I’ve ever recorded and it’s my favorite song to perform live. It’s just got such an incredible groove. I feel it all the way to my bones.

Evelyn Champagne King

After all these years I never had a favorite, I love all my hits. If I had to choose one, it’s probably “Shame” because this is where it all started for me and I was recognized around the world for that song.

Anita Ward

Of course, “Ring My Bell” is my favorite. That song has become very profitable and rewarding.

Norma Jean

My favorite hit song by Chic is probably “Good Times.” I like the overall groove and vibe of the song, plus Bernard’s bass line is so distinct in character that it took on a life of its own, influencing other artist such as Queen, on “Another One Bites the Dust,” and the Sugar Hill Gang with “Rappers Delight.”

Pamala Stanley

“Coming Out of Hiding.” To watch people run to the dance floor when that song was played in the clubs was an absolute thrill. Then every time I sing it, and everyone sings along, it warms my heart. I produced that track with my ex-husband, and every note of it was carefully thought out. We mixed it three different times until we just knew in our gut that it had arrived.

Maxine Nightingale

“Right Back Where I Started From” because it brings back such happy memories for people when they hear it.

Why do you think Disco music has such endurance? 

Alfa Anderson

Disco music endures because it allows us to do our happy dance. We don’t care how we look. We just throw caution to the wind, groove to the beat and just go for it. It’s so liberating.

Linda Clifford

Because it’s fun! People enjoy getting on the floor to shake their groove thang!

Martha Wash

Because it was a time when people just wanted to have fun and be carefree.

France Joli

Disco music offends no one, and creates such a diversity of emotions. It can make you happy, feel romantic, it can awaken your sexual senses, and it can inspire you to dance fearlessly. I’ve never been to a party without hearing a Disco song.

Evelyn Champagne King

I think disco/dance has such endurance because it’s the kind of music that makes you think and makes you happy. It also keeps you on the dance floor, it’s the type of music you can sing along to, and made you feel free.

Anita Ward

Disco music is a reflection of the easy breezy life and the beat went on and on.

Norma Jean

I think one of reasons Disco music has had endurance is because back then the recording process was multi-dimensional. Those involved in the creation and development of this music were generally consummate songwriters/producers, singers/musicians, and engineers. Disco music was also a hybrid of sorts, merging elements of pop, soul, funk, and more. Therefore, it appealed to a broader audience, and I believe all of these attributes have contributed to its endurance through several generations.

Pamala Stanley

It makes you happy, gives you energy, and it is downright fun. It can be clever, romantic, and innovative. But I think the biggest reason is it seems almost every age group loves Disco.

Maxine Nightingale

The mixture of rhythm and blues and pop music created a perfect blend during the 70′s with groups like Earth, Wind & Fire, Kool & the Gang, and Chic. There has never been such a perfect marriage

What are you looking forward to the most in performing at Evening Under the Stars?

Alfa Anderson

I am really looking forward to being reunited onstage with Luci and Norma Jean. The fact that the performance benefits AIDS Assistance Program makes it even more special to me.

Linda Clifford

Meeting a few new people. I happen to love Palm Springs, and I’ll be helping to raise money for this tremendous cause.

Martha Wash

Being with all the other ladies and hoping the audience will love this show!

France Joli

I really think I’m most looking forward to just being in the desert. I have a long history in Palm Springs. My best friend Daniel lives there with his husband, David. I’ve visited and performed here many times, have shot a video near Joshua Tree, and spent Christmas and my last birthday here. The entire Coachella Valley has an energy that I absolutely love, and Palm Springs is at the top of my list of places to which I’d like to retire.  Plus, helping to raise funds for AIDS Assistance Program makes me feel like I’m already part of the community. I feel very grateful to have been invited to perform.

Evelyn Champagne King

Seeing all the ladies of disco come together, meeting all the fans, and contributing to this wonderful event.

Anita Ward

I am honored to be a participant in this performance for AIDS Assistance Program.

Norma Jean

I’m looking forward to reuniting with many of the other performers. Some of them are friends, and I haven’t seen them in a while. I will also enjoy the meet and greet, which will give me an opportunity to make new acquaintances and to interact with some of the audience members.

Pamala Stanley

I can’t wait to perform with these amazing women. Some of them I have never met, so to tell you the truth, I am excited to meet them! But the thrill of performing for all those wonderful Disco lovers will be phenomenal!

Maxine Nightingale

Performing under the stars. To be in Palm Springs in May is the perfect situation!

You will be performing with 10 other “Ladies of Disco.” Have you performed with any of the other singers before and what was your experience? 

Alfa Anderson

Even though I have not performed with the other ladies before, I am sure that the “six degrees of separation” rule applies. I bet once we start talking, we will find that there are only “three degrees of separation.” In fact, I can document “one degree of separation” from at least three of these ladies.

Linda Clifford

I have performed with almost all of these incredible women, and I’m thrilled to do it again. The only Lady I’ve never worked with is Maxine, so I’m looking forward to working with her.

Martha Wash

I have performed with all of them at one time or another and it’s always been a great time.

France Joli

Yes, I actually have had the opportunity to perform with the majority of these other first ladies of Disco. It’s always a great experience for me to be surrounded with such incredible talent. We’re all soul sisters in a way, right? So when you’ve got us all performing on the same night, it makes for great entertainment, and when we get to share a number, well, let’s just say that if the O’Donnell Golf Course had a roof, we’d tear it off.

Evelyn Champagne King

Yes! I have worked with most of the ladies in the show, and the experience when we come together is just a great time laughing and enjoying each other.

Anita Ward

Yes, I have performed with several of the “Ladies of Disco.” Whenever we see each other, we attempt to catch up on what has been going on in our lives. It is an exhilarating experience!

Norma Jean

Yes, I have performed with several of the other singers, and the experience has always been positive. We all still love performing, and generally, we enjoy each other’s company.

Pamala Stanley

I have performed with Linda Clifford many times. She is an absolute blast. She is talented and charming and I am honored to say, she is my friend. Martha Wash is another friend of mine. What an incredible singer and performer. Some of my most beloved memories are of The Weather Girls, when we would get together with their husbands and manager, my husband, and me eating Kentucky Fried Chicken after our performances. They were a riot. I miss Izora.

Maxine Nightingale

Yes, I have performed with many of them and the experience varies from person to person.

If I were to turn on your iPod right now, what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list?

Alfa Anderson

The recently played music you’d see right now are the songs I’m working on for my solo CD.

Linda Clifford

You would see, Patti LaBelle, Donna Summer, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, and Pharrell (Happy).

Martha Wash

Well I listen to a lot of gospel, so Fred Hammond, John P. Kee, Richard Smallwood, Kurt Carr. But also Aretha, Charlie Wilson, and Ne-Yo.

France Joli

Lady Gaga’s “Do What You Want With My Body,” “Say Something” by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera, “Knock Down” by Alicia Dixon, Bruno Mars’ Greatest Hits, and 20/20 from Justin Timberlake.

Evelyn Champagne King

Gorillaz- “Feel Good,” Freddie Fox- “From the Heart,” Daft Funk- “Around the World,” Insanity- “15 Minute Workout,” Pepper Mashay- “Dive in the Pool.”

Anita Ward

I do not own an iPod, but I love any and all songs by Charlie Wilson and Bruno Mars. “Happy” by Pharrell, “All of Me” by John Legend, and “Roar” by Katie Perry are some of my favorites also!

Norma Jean

I have a management company and represent several songwriter/producers, so often I’m listening to original songs created by them. I have recently played Pharrell’s “Happy” and Miguel’s “Adorn.”

Pamala Stanley

I have such an eclectic collection, but as far as pop music, I think this shows some of my loves: Lady GaGa, Kim Rooney, songs from the TV show Glee, Lady Antebellum, Katy Perry, and Rhianna.

Maxine Nightingale

I love Beyoncé, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Daft Punk, and pianist Les McCann.