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Cynthia Erivo will take the stage at Oscars Governors Ball

Lapacazo Sandoval and Art Shrian | 2/23/2017, 11:17 a.m.
The news that award-winning singer-songwriter Cynthia Erivo will perform at the Governors Ball immediately after the Oscars Sunday, Feb. 26, ...
Cynthia Erivo will perform at the Oscars Governors Ball Contributed

The news that award-winning singer-songwriter Cynthia Erivo will perform at the Governors Ball immediately after the Oscars Sunday, Feb. 26, was announced at the annual Oscars Governors Ball food preview, which provided a preview of the food, beverages and décor of this year’s Governors Ball. The Ball’s 1,500 attendees will enjoy cuisine prepared by Wolfgang Puck, master chef Eric Klein and executive chef Kamel Guechida, Monica Ng and Jason Lemmonier, the

Wolfgang Puck pastry team.

The crowd of international journalists covering the annual preview was abuzz because Erivo’s music wasn’t new to them. A native of the U.K., she made her Broadway debut starring as Celie in the critically acclaimed revival of “The Color Purple,” for which she received a Tony for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical and a Grammy

for Best Musical Theater album.

Tony award winner Lin Manuel Miranda, who is also nominated this year for “best song” for his work on “Moana” shared, on social media, how deeply powerful he felt after watching Erivo onstage in the “Color Purple.”

To be invited into this event is an honor, hard-earned and deeply valued. It is also a reminder of the power of storytellers and the responsibility that comes with the privilege.

The floating stage from which Erivo will dazzle the crowd complements the red décor and relaxed lounge atmosphere that marks this year’s design theme. The libations will flow, with taste selections from Piper-Heidsieck Champagne, Francis Ford Coppola Wines and The Hilhaven Lodge Whiskey. The interior will be filled with Mark’s Garden’s floral designs with accents of deep red.

On the music vibe, the evening will also feature multiplatinum recording artist JoJo, five-time Emmy-nominated music director Rickey Minor and husband-and-wife deejays DJ M.O.S. and DJ KISS, showcasing an eclectic mix of musical genres.

During the annual tasting, I ran into Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who greeted me with a long, tight and warm hug.

I complimented her on the successful changes around inclusion that her well-loved administration has begun. I said to her, “I admired how the nominees where reveled this year, it made the experience intimate and immediate. When Dev Patel’s [now a BAFTA winner] name was called, Cheryl, the chills ran up and down my arms. He is a Brown man. The first Indian to be nominated, under best actor. I am so proud of him. The New York Amsterdam News is proud of him!”

She smiled and replied “Dev Patel is a very good friend of mine and I will make sure that I tell him what you said.”

Isaacs is a woman of her word. I have no doubt that BAFTA winner, Oscar-nominated Patel knows that Harlem is rooting for him.

The 89th Academy Awards will be held Oscar Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscars presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.