This sold out event on Thursday, June 17, 2010, had been on my calendar since December, when I pre-gifted attendance to my mother at Christmas. I started tweeting about it regularly in January, as I waited impatiently to be allowed to buy tickets. By the time tickets were available, my guest list had grown to include my aunt and uncle. For the last six months, this has been the most anticipated event on our calendars!
The NasherSALON Speaker Series brings a small group of patrons up close and personal with a diverse selection of “internationally acclaimed legends and luminaries”. My family and I thoroughly enjoyed this intimate conversation with the “Empress of Soul”, Gladys Knight. The moderator for the evening was Emmy Award-winning television and radio veteran, and Texas Radio Hall of Fame member, Jody Dean. As I only know his voice from the morning drive show on KLUV, I was a bit perplexed about him being chosen as moderator. That went away within five minutes, as Mr. Dean demonstrated how he earned the “Best Talk Show Host” designation from the Dallas Business Journal.
Throughout the evening, Ms. Knight came across as a really nice, down to earth, likable person. She often spoke directly to the audience and gave the impression that we were all just sitting out on the veranda enjoying a lovely evening of getting to know one another better. No matter what potentially “hot topic” Mr. Dean threw her way, she kept her composure as her gracious nature prevailed where another person of her stature may have settled in to really dish out the dirt. One such moment was when Mr. Dean highlighted early successes touring with the Pips and opening for huge stars like Diana Ross and the Supremes. If you don’t know the story, Mr. Dean was happy to fill in the details of Ms. Ross ending that touring relationship due to feelings that Gladys Knight’s soulful voice outshone hers.
While Ms. Knight is an award nominated actress, businesswoman, humanitarian, and author; the conversation really focused on her career as an R&B/soul singer-songwriter. Perhaps the most surprising thing I learned is that not only does she love country music, but most of her hit songs were written as country songs. Though the focus of the NasherSALON Speaker Series is to provide a discourse on art, literature and other cultural topics; Ms. Knight ended the evening with several songs! Yes, she sang to us as we swayed, clapped and sang right along with her including the very well choreographed whoo whoo’s in Midnight Train to Georgia.
I must thank the Nasher personnel for their graciousness from the time I tweeted about my mother’s unfortunate accident until the we left the event. For the last two weeks, my mother has been required to use a wheel chair. Upon alerting the Nasher, I was immediately given direct contact to someone who made arrangements for us. I dropped into the Nasher early the evening of the event and, upon giving my name, was told that multiple people were aware of our needs and happy to assist when the rest of my party arrived. While I spend a fair amount of time at the Nasher, my family had not and so was very impressed with the kindness of the Nasher personnel with whom they came into contact.
The next luminaries to grace the stage in the NasherSALON Speaker Series are Stephen Sondheim and Jim Lehrer. If you have even the slightest interest in attending, be sure to set your alarm clock for 7:45 a.m. the day the tickets go on sale. These events sell out quickly. For further information, call 214-242-5100 or visit www.NasherSculptureCenter.org/Salon.