Honoring Stevie

“I want to honor people this way when they’re alive”. ~ My comment after Prince’s transition.

George Michael has been on my mind. I loved his songwriting. Ladies and Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael got me through some formative years. “Flawless” is an anthem of mine. I read that he was a bit reclusive in his later years. I wondered if he knew the unintended reach of his art.

In the last few weeks, one of my happy places has been designing honoring ceremonies for artists I love, who have given me so much. So we catch them when they’re alive. Think VH1’s “Janet Jackson: Icon” special they did for her a few years ago. Beautiful.

I’m on Stevie right now.

We would begin with a youth performance of Fingertips, with the stage invoking images of the early 1960’s. There’s a mash-up of popular 1963 hits so we get a sense of the times - think “Heat Wave” and “You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me”.

I want a historian to comment on the power of an artist like Stevie, and how he influenced R&B over 50+ years. I want a movement-style speech about ways his music intersected with the Black Power movement in the 70’s.

I want Stevie lovers in the R&B and Soul world to perform hits he wrote for other artists, so we get a sense of the breadth and depth of this man’s influence. Two of my faves: “Tell Me Something Good” (Rufus) and “I Can’t Help It” (Michael Jackson). That’s actually my favorite Michael Jackson song, so there’s a way I owe some of my love for Mike to Stevie.

Part of the concert would be in total darkness, so we could experience his music the way he does.

Black artists from all over would come together for this. Grandparents and children - everyone across the years who’ve been influenced by Stevie. This would be an event for the ages.