Word just in from Voza Rivers—and you know when Rivers speaks, New York City listens—in celebration of Black History Month, at the Apollo Theater’s “Friday Night in Harlem Let the Music Say Amen” will feature four-time Grammy Award winner Regina Belle, Grammy-nominated singer Lalah Hathaway and multiple Grammy-nominated singer and Songwriter’s Hall of Fame great Valerie Simpson (Ashford and Simpson). Simpson will perform and receive the Mahalia Jackson Gospel Award. These three women, baptized in gospel music, will be backed by contemporary jazz musicians Alex Bugnon, Victor Bailey and Lenny White.

Also performing are the Manhattan School of Music Swing Jazz Orchestra, with their special guests National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Cecil Bridgewater and Arturo O’Farrill. New Orleans master pianist Jonathan Batiste will receive the Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong Legacy Award and will be featured in a special performance, followed by the spiritual sounds of Harlem’s First Corinthian Baptist Church Mass Choir and the Grammy- and Oscar-nominated IMPACT Repertory Theatre in a gospel tribute to Nelson Mandela. I had to let him say it, for who could say it better than he? It all takes place at the Apollo Theater on Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. You can get tickets at the Apollo box office or by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-735-3000.

For all of you Whispers fans, get ready to rock steady. The Whispers, along with Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes, will be performing at Bergen Performing Arts Center, located in Englewood, N.J., on what else but Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day. How sweet is that?

The Whispers date back to 1963, when their first hit was “I Only Meant to Wet My Feet.” Spanning the decades, the group, which hails from California, has a sound that never grows old, as their melodic tones and jazzy beats fall right in with the sounds of the times. The Whispers continue to wow their crowd of faithful followers with their timelessness, and the beat goes on.

Happy birthday to Elinor Tatum, Carl Simmons and my mom, Harriet DeLaney. 

Condolences to the family of Carol Giles, wife of Judge Jim Giles of Philadelphia, who has passed away after a very long illness.

Also now deceased is Joseph James Evans, musician and founder of the record label Carnival Records. Evans played alto sax, baritone sax, the flute and clarinet behind some of the most popular singers, musicians and bands from 1939 through 1965. He is predeceased by his wife, Anne Moore Evans, and survived by his son, Thomas James Evans; two great-grandchildren; a host of nieces, nephews and cousins; other relatives; and friends.

Bon voyage to Renee Buford, who is trading in the deep freeze for the warmer waters of St. Maartin, at least for a week.

Apologies to Jean Jordon for inviting mom and me to be her guests at the monthly Hillbillie meeting, as it was her time to host. I am no longer a Hillbillie and appreciated the invite, but lo and behold, the weather won out and kept us closer to home.

You will be glad to know that the 60th annual Winter Antique Show did make it to town, with all of its splendor. You will also be very glad to know that the Robert E. Lee showcase was left down yonder and in all its glory was replaced with a special exhibition from the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) that was sponsored by Chubb Personal Insurance.

Founded in 1799 by America’s earliest global entrepreneurs, the PEM features various artifacts dating back from the 1700s to today’s artists, all of which portray different lifestyles and perspectives across a variety of cultures. Amongst the museum’s most prominent exhibitions is that of merchant seaman Joseph Peabody. Paintings and artifacts depict tales of Peabody’s adventures across the seas to far-off lands such as Sumatra. As he became a very successful merchant in the pepper trade, Peabody continued to raise a family steeped in compassion and the importance of philanthropic endeavors. The museum, which is located in Salem, Mass., continues in this tradition, as it professes, “The nation’s oldest continuously operating museum, PEM was among the first museums in America to collect works of art and culture from around the world. Its collections of contemporary and historic American, Asian, maritime, Oceanic, Native American and African art and culture, as well as its archival library and historic American and Chinese houses, are among the finest of their kind. PEM is committed to meeting the highest professional standards in the development, management, care and preservation of its collections.”

According to the museum’s mission statement, “The mission of the Peabody Essex Museum is to celebrate outstanding artistic and cultural creativity by collecting, stewarding and interpreting objects of art and culture in ways that increase knowledge, enrich the spirit, engage the mind and stimulate the senses. Through its exhibitions, programs, publications, media and related activities, PEM strives to create experiences that transform people’s lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes and knowledge of themselves and the wider world.”

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority celebrated 106 years of community service with a special Founders Day salute.

Pre-Grammy celebrations took place everywhere, including one hosted by the Neilson rating organization, wherein entertainment was provided by John Legend and it girl DJ Hannah Bronfman. Bronfman took time off from spinning to hang with homegirl Rita Ora, the protégé of Jay Z, who hosted a mega party of his own. Getting back to Bronfman, the girl has quite a resume, as she does a little fashion designing, takes killer photos (some of which she is in) and is the poster girl for girls who just want to have fun.

Until next week … kisses