Salute 32 is fast approaching. If you are reading this on Thursday, you have a grand total of nine days to get your glamour game all the way together for the St. Louis American Foundation’s 32nd Annual Salute to Excellence in Education Scholarship and Awards Gala at America’s Center. If you haven’t been, you should – especially if you want to be in the same space with some of the most influential citizens in the region. And I’m talking about from every arena – from the arts to politics, and, of course, the field of education. There is absolutely nothing like it. Don’t believe me, ask around. Once you get your co-sign, go ahead and cop your ticket, and prepare yourself for next level elegance. It goes down Saturday, September 21 at America’s Center. For more information, visit www.stlamerican.com or call (314) 533-8000.
A glorious Gala en Blanc. Since I’m already on the subject of elegance and glamour, I might as well jump into one of the best combination of the two that I’ve ever seen – outside of Salute of course. Listen, I know if I start naming off the parties involved with pulling together the Gala En Blanc benefit for Urban Sprouts Child Development Center held last Saturday at Kiener Plaza, I will forget folks. Then the left-off folks will be bothered instead of taking to heart what a masterfully done event they pulled together. I have been going out for a living since Moses was a baby and I was shook with delight to see 500-plus folks from all walks of life glowing in their white ensembles. For those who don’t understand how it works, let me break it down: Gala En Blanc was inspired by Diner in Blanc. What happens is, folks get together in a secret location in a public place and party. It’s BYOB and BYOF, but when socialites and influencers are involved – they can make a whole order of special fried rice from Delmar Chop Suey look like a formal dining entrée. Guests were responsible for decorating their own tables – and the event organizers had items for sale onsite for those who didn’t bring anything. Listen, it was utter and absolute life. Folks came to slay in their all white. There were so many fashion winners on this evening. Best hat honors go hands-down to Cora Faith Walker. The only bad thing is that she probably had to have a guide, because that lovely flower that was three times as big as her head had to be impossible to see around and over. As far as total overall looks, I’m inclined to say Brendolyn Marie (the artist formerly known as Harlem B.). There was something about the Whitley Gilbert realness she was serving up that was quite striking. Just about everybody looked phenomenal. City Treasurer Tishaura Jones was giving one her best head-to-toes to date. Since it may have gotten lost in the shadow of Cora’s headpiece, I thought I would give you some shine for it, girl. Naretha Hopson was giving life more abundantly with that textured white and bedazzled headband combo. And who was that gentlemen with the shorts and open flowing sheer summer jacket? I could go on and on – I’m telling y’all, the whole event was a win from start to finish. But I will stop here. But not before making sure that I shout out Elicia Lanier for her Urban Sprouts vision – because as wonderful as the event was, it was all about her work pouring into our future leaders through early learning.
Nelly plays A-town. Before I say anything about the actual performance, let me shut everyone down who implied that Nelly playing Alton was evidence that his star is fading. Anybody who hit up the Liberty Bank Amphitheater and saw all of those folks knows nothing can be further from the truth. Perhaps he booked the show to make up for the tour that didn’t make its way to STL proper. Either way, the show was a win. Although I’ve always considered hm cute, I can’t say that I’ve ever necessarily lusted after him before Friday night. I don’t know if it was because he put his grill back in and was looking extra spry as he served up the biggest hits of the turn-of-the-millennium, or what. But I was feeling him at this show. And so were some of the folks who were doing the absolute most even before Mr. Country Grammar took the stage. Listen, I really do want you to feel free enough to struggle twerk to the Ying Yang Twins in public. But not at the expense of my personal space and safety. If you have to fall into me before falling over every single time you drop it like it’s hot, then stick to the step-touch-kick-ball-change when you are within 50 feet of me please. Okay, back to Nelly and ‘nem’s triumphant show. I knew it was going to be hot by how DJ Charlie Chan Soprano was slaying the tables. And I was absolutely right. Nelly, City Spud, Ali and the band came through with the hits. And he even paid homage to the other St. Louis folks who made a splash on the national and international hip-hop scene – and turned the stage over to J-Kwon and Ali for a hot second while doing it. I was thrilled with this whole show and I have a feeling that the roughly 4,000 folks who packed it out felt the exact same way.
An almost-missed AKA house party. The only negative note I have for Nelly is that his show ran long to the point where I could only catch the tail end of the HBCU House Party presented by the lovely ladies of the Omicron Theta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Friday at The Machinist Hall. I’m thrilled to report that the AKA’s finally have a stroll to “Back That Thang Up.” But unlike the Deltas, they don’t ever actually back it up. But who would expect them too? It’s still super cute though. The whole party was as well. That handful of Alphas were the little train that could. They stomped and did the train to every song the DJ played – which I wasn’t mad about, because he was jamming.
A Saturday of The Ville reborn. I was over the moon Saturday when I heard that Northside Trap Run Consciousfest were partnering up to bring the best and brightest black folks to the Ville for their back to back events that took place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. It was everything I had hoped and more. That was what community looks like – a run in the morning and a day of performances by rising stars that celebrated being woke. Folks came out in droves to support black excellence all day long and I loved it. I really hope that they pair up again next year.