Posts Tagged ‘Miss America’

My Life: The First 35 Years

While it’s not a milestone birthday, like my first, another one is approaching.

My life’s longevity has surpassed both of my parents (my mother died at 47 and my father at 55) and I’m grateful for that.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that as we get older, we pontificate about life more.

We think about the past — good and bad — and wonder what the future holds. And, Good Lord, with 2020 and Covid-19, I hope it’s an improvement!

With that in mind, I started thinking about the events and the songs that have influenced me most in life.

So, today, I’m sharing the 13 most memorable events of my first 35 years (1964-1999). Why 13? It’s my favorite number and I was born on the 13th!

EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#13 KENT STATE MASSACRE (MAY 4, 1970)

While I was only five years old when this happened and I didn’t understand the Vietnam War or the protests, I vividly remember the news that evening and this iconic photograph.

As you may recall, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed students killing four and wounding nine others.

On the 30th anniversary of the deadly shootings, I covered the story for a television station in Mansfield, Ohio.

#12 MADONNA MARRYING SEAN PENN (AUGUST 1985)

It’s no secret that I love Madonna. I’ve seen her in concert four times and I remember buying her first album at Terrapin Station in Murray, Kentucky, in 1983, before she was a household name.

But, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I shed tears the day she married Sean Penn in 1985!

Not because I was happy. I just knew it wouldn’t last and it was my “Madonna”! 🙂

#11 JEFFREY DAHMER & MY MILWAUKEE SUMMER (1990)

Back in 1990, I moved from Kentucky to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While I was only there for the summer into the early fall, I enjoyed my job as a bartender at “Partners”, one of the oldest LGBTQ bars in the city.

OMG, I was so young — in stone-washed jeans and a New Kids on the Block t-shirt! 🙂

On a slow Sunday night, a couple came in and ordered drinks.  Jerry was a good-looking man and his lady friend, who was older than him, was D’nell. 

While Jerry flirted with me, it was my bond with D’nell that would stand the test of time. She became my “Mom” and I called her that until her death in early 2009.

One night I went out drinking with my friends and co-workers in the seedier part of the gay district at C’est La Vie and Club 219.

Needless to say, I had way too much to drink and the scary alley, while unsavory, was a great place to puke before we moved on elsewhere!!!

I didn’t think too much about it at the time, but when serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested, I got chills. Club 219 was one of his favorite haunts and he picked up many of his victims there!

I used to keep journals and my night at Club 219 coincided with the stalking and murdering timeline. He very well could have been lurking in the corner that night I was totally wasted!

#10 VANESSA WILLIAMS TURNING OVER HER MISS AMERICA CROWN (JULY 1984)

It was a beautiful night in 1983 when Vanessa Williams became the first black Miss America.

It was a very sad day in the summer of 1984, when the 21-year-old turned over her crown after artistic (and unauthorized) nude pictures surfaced in Penthouse. (Even as a gay boy, I bought the magazine to see what the fuss was all about!)

Another admission: I was saddened and cried watching this press conference! I was hoping that she’d fight to keep her crown and tell the Miss America pageant to “f*ck off”, but that didn’t happen!

But, Vanessa has gone on to a very successful singing and acting career with numerous Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award nominations!

As a bonus, my favorite Vanessa Williams song!

Here’s my blog from earlier in 2020 dedicated just to Vanessa! (It’ll open in a new window.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2020/03/18/vanessa-williams-still-reigns/

Along with the events that impacted my first 35 years, I’m sharing my 35 favorites songs from those 35 years!*

Casey Kasem is my inspiration. I still recall all the weekends I spent listening to Casey count down the 40 biggest songs in America!

As I compiled my comprehensive list, it started out with 236 of my favorites!!!

As a teenager, I remember telling my grandmother Helen that a certain song was my “favorite” and she replied, “they’re all your favorites”!

But, when I was a youngster, there could only be one winner!

So here goes… enjoy the countdown and the videos!

#35 “GLORIA” (LAURA BRANIGAN) (1982)

#34 “SUGAR SUGAR” (THE ARCHIES) (1969)

#33 “LIZZIE AND THE RAINMAN” (TANYA TUCKER) (1975)

#32 “YOU ARE” (LIONEL RICHIE) (1983)

#31 “NEVER SURRENDER” (COREY HART) (1985)

MORE EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#9 “JOHN WAYNE GACY’S CHICAGO MURDER SPREE (1970s)

Just before Christmas 1978, John Wayne Gacy was arrested in Des Plaines, Illinois (near Chicago), for the murder of 15-year-old Robert Piest.

During his confession, police would learn there were many other bodies.

Gacy is known to have killed, at least 33 young men and boys. Of those, 26 were buried in the crawl space of his home!

When the news of this serial killer broke, I was a 14-year-old gay boy living in western Kentucky, just six hours away.

This had a very chilling effect on me since I was the same age as some of his victims. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that people could kill others just for the thrill of it!

#8 KAREN CARPENTER’S DEATH (1983)

Karen and Richard Carpenter were on “top of the world” in the 1970s topping the chart with their amazing melodies and her incredible voice.

After years of battling anorexia nervosa, the music world was shocked on February 4, 1983, when Karen died of a heart attack. The years of starvation had destroyed her body.

Karen’s battle with an eating disorder brought that subject to the forefront for America. I know the awareness has saved many lives.

#7 AIDS EPIDEMIC (FROM THE SUMMER OF 1981 TO NOW)

For almost 30 years from the 1980s through the early-2010s, I strongly despised, even hated, President Ronald Reagan.

In the summer of 1981, a new “gay cancer” (it would be called AIDS later) was attacking and quickly killing homosexuals in alarming numbers.

However, President Reagan didn’t mention the deadly disease publicly until a press conference in 1985. And, it’d be six years into the AIDS pandemic (1987) before he gave his first speech on AIDS — after more than 20,000 Americans had already died!

What a terrifying time for a 16-year-old boy that wasn’t even sexually active yet.

Four decades later, by the grace of God, I’m still HIV-negative, but I have friends that are positive and I’ve know people that have died of AIDS.

Thankfully, we now have drugs, when taken properly, make it impossible to spread the virus!

National Institute of Health: “U=U means that people living with HIV who achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load—the amount of HIV in the blood—by taking and adhering to antiretroviral therapy (ART) as prescribed cannot sexually transmit the virus to others.”

#6 “HALLOWEEN IN HOUSTON” & ELECTING BILL & HILLARY CLINTON (1992)

My first time on a plane was in October 1992 when I flew to Houston to celebrate Halloween with my friends Steve and Dennis.

There were so many amazing costumes in the big city including 1992 presidential candidate Ross Perot!!!

That pretty much summarizes the PG version of our nights on Montrose in the gay district.

There are many more scandalous pictures of that trip elsewhere in my blog’s history, including ones of yours truly!

Remember I was in my carefree 20s and it was before Facebook!!! 🙂

Clearly, there was boob admiration going on here between the two of us — he won!

Since my outfit was rather risque, I didn’t drink much that night and maybe that was a good thing! 🙂

However, after an intoxicating Sunday night with vodka cranberries, we flew back to Kentucky Monday and on Tuesday, I cast my first vote for the Clintons, which sent them to the White House for what would turn out to be eight years! 🙂

Now, back to the countdown!

#30 “MERRY CHRISTMAS DARLING” (THE CARPENTERS) (1970)

#29 “SOS” (ABBA) (1975)

#28 “DREAMS” (GABRIELLE) (1993)

#27 “YOU MAKE MY DREAMS” (DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES) (1981)

#26 “SO EMOTIONAL” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1987)

#25 “TARZAN BOY” (BALTIMORA) (1985)

#24 “EMOTIONS” (MARIAH CAREY) (1991)

#23 “BORDERLINE” (MADONNA) (1984)

#22 “ONLY IN MY DREAMS” (DEBBIE GIBSON) (1987)

#21 “I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY (WHO LOVES ME)” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1987)

EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#5 THE DEATH OF MY FIRST IDOL — MY GRANDFATHER (1978)

My first two idols in life were my my mother, Dessie, and my grandfather, John Henry Peoples.

Sadly, my life with my grandfather was cut short since I had just become a teenager when he died in early 1978.

I’ll never forget his last Christmas as he was dying from colon cancer, it was remarkable how he stayed in good spirits.

I’ll always cherish the weekends we spent together at Kentucky Lake camping out and fishing.  Also, all of the memories of just piddling around in the back yard and in his work garage remain vividly clear in my mind.  He made me feel loved and appreciated.

I never really liked the taste of beer.  But, as a kid, it was so cool that he would let me suck the suds off his beer cans when he’d open them. 

Maybe it’s because of the suds that I’ve now moved on to bubbly champagne as an adult (along with vodka and wine)!

When I finally get to heaven, I can’t wait to say “thank you” and let him know how much I idolized him.  I know, as a kid, I never told him.

There was also talk that I was almost named after my father.  I’m grateful that I wasn’t.  However, it would have been an honor to have been a “John Henry” Junior!

#4 JIMMY CARTER BECOMING PRESIDENT (1976)

In November 1976, as a 12-year-old boy in Kentucky, I cast my first presidential vote for the Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter, and four years later, at 16, I voted for him again. 

So, you might be thinking, that’s impossible.  Many things go on in Kentucky that aren’t talked about in other states, but kids still can’t vote. 

Well, since my Grandmother Helen was not very literate, I accompanied her into the voting booth and I got to vote for the candidates of my choice.  Even then, I knew what I was doing.  🙂

Now, you might be thinking, why Carter?  Maybe it was because he was a Southerner and he talked like me!  I’m kidding.  I just liked him.

At age 12, I didn’t know anything about “gay rights”, but then again, there was no such thing as “rights” for those kind of people in the mid-1970s!

While Carter was a deeply committed Christian that taught Sunday school and prayed several times a day, he was the first president to address gay rights and his administration was the first to meet with gay rights activists.  He was opposed to the Briggs Initiative in California that would have banned gays from teaching in public schools.

In the summer of 2017, while living in Panama City, Florida, I drove through the darkness of night and across the backwoods of the Southeast to hear President Carter give a sermon at his church in Plains, Georgia, and I got to meet my idols, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter!

#3 MY DECADE LONG STRUGGLE WITH BULIMIA (1986-1995)

Over the years, I’ve written many times about eating disorders from Karen Carpenter’s anorexia nervosa to my own battle with bulimia.

Just know that eating disorders affect men and women, girls and boys, the young and the elderly!

I wrote, “In early 1995, I was down to 116 pounds and I thought I was fat… I’m still obsessed with weight gains and losses, eating too much, and fighting the urge to binge and purge.”

Another time I shared, “… I fight the food demon of overeating every day.  A few pounds to the average person is a huge burden, a catalyst for insecurity, and a path for destruction to a food addict.”

While I was a practicing bulimic for nine years from 1986-1995, I got my act together for more than two decades.

Beyond the scope of this blog, I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times and then I just get up and start over again!

Like other addictions, it’s a daily struggle and not something that’ll just go away.

Let the countdown roll on….

#20 “AIN’T EVEN DONE WITH THE NIGHT” (JOHN COUGAR MELLENCAMP) (1981)

#19 “DIM ALL THE LIGHTS” (DONNA SUMMER) (1979)

#18 “ON MY OWN” (PATTI LaBELLE & MICHAEL McDONALD) (1986)

“ON MY OWN” (REBA McENTIRE, MARTINA McBRIDE, TRISHA YEARWOOD, & LINDA DAVIS) (1995)

#17 “NO FRILLS LOVE” (JENNIFER HOLLIDAY) (1985)

#16 “I AM WOMAN” (HELEN REDDY) (1972)

#15 “TWO OF HEARTS” (STACEY Q) (1986)

#14 “FASCINATED” (COMPANY B) (1987)

#13 “I LOVE MY RADIO” (TAFFY) (1986)

#12 “TOP OF THE WORLD” (THE CARPENTERS) (1973)

#11 “MISSING YOU” (JOHN WAITE) (1984)

“TAINTED LOVE” (SOFT CELL) (1982)

“WE DON’T HAVE TO TAKE OUR CLOTHES OFF” (JERMAINE STEWART) (1986)

“ONE PROMISE TOO LATE” (REBA McENTIRE) (1987)

“OH L’AMOUR” (ERASURE) (1986)

“DON’T YOU WANT ME” (THE HUMAN LEAGUE) (1981)

“HARPER VALLEY P.T.A.” (JEANNIE C. RILEY) (1968)

“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU” (MARIAH CAREY) (1994 ORIGINAL)

“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU” (MAKE MY WISH COME TRUE EDITION) (MARIAH CAREY) (2019)

EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#2 MOVING TO CHICAGO (1994) & KICKING OFF MY TV CAREER (1996)

In November 1993, my grandmother Helen (the last of my living parents and grandparents) died.

I was still in my hometown helping to take care of her and since Tammy was young and had her own family, I had no reason to stay in Kentucky any longer.

I often wondered “Is There Life Out There?” (the title of a huge Reba McEntire song in 1992), and I struggled through the 1993 holidays and the early winter months of 1994.

In the spring of 1994, my friend Steve shared with me the PBS series, “Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the Cities” and Mary Ann Singleton (Laura Linney) became my inspiration to make a change in my life!

Over Memorial Day 1994, Steve, Dennis, and I went to Chicago to party for the weekend and we had a blast.

At Gentry’s on Rush, the owner started sending over free cocktails and the boys (and the music) were so hot!

It was there that I fell in love with “Dreams” by Gabrielle (back at #28) and Sarah Brightman’s “Once in a Lifetime” from the “Dive” album!

It was also that weekend that I decided I was moving to Chicago!

Six weeks later, over the Fourth of July weekend, I moved to the big city and it was the best decision I ever made!

It was an interesting two years — bartending in a country gay bar, meeting a psycho on my 30th birthday that ended up trying to kill me several times, and then meeting someone that would become my longest relationship (9 years).

It was also during my first residency in Chicago that my television news career took off in the spring of 1996. My first network-affiliated television weather job was in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, that summer. And, from there, jobs in Texas, Ohio, Maryland, Illinois, Florida, and Minnesota followed!

#1 MY MOTHER’S DEATH (NOVEMBER 7, 1990)

My beautiful, wonderful mother, Dessie, died of a heart attack on the morning of November 7, 1990.

While I’ve lived more than half of my lifetime without her, I’m grateful for the 26 years we had together.

She was there to see me make my theatrical stage debut in “The Curious Savage” and saw me present weather at Murray State University’s television station that was only broadcast on cable systems in two cities.

My mother was there in the spring of 1989 when I became the first college graduate in our family.

One of the funniest stories I have of my mother happened in the spring of 1990. I took her to Sunday brunch at 101st Airborne in Nashville, Tennessee.  

She didn’t drink, but her champagne glass was empty every time the server came by and mine was always full since I kept switching glasses with her. I’m sure the waitress thought Dessie was such a lush and I was so innocent allowing my mother to drink so freely while I just sipped my champagne! 🙂

There have been so many times over the past 30 years that I’ve wanted to grab the phone to share something with her and then realize that I couldn’t do it!

As I reflect back on my life with my mother, I was so fortunate to be loved. She wasn’t just my mother — she was my biggest supporter, she was my rock, and she was my friend!

When I think of all of the things I wrote about today and not having a chance to talk to her about them, I can still smile and feel warm inside.

I know that my mother is with me — in my heart and in my memories!

P.S. The #38 song at the bottom of the blog was played at my mother’s funeral!

To quote Casey again, back to the countdown because “we don’t stop until we get to the top!”

“XANADU” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1980)

“IMAGINE” (JOHN LENNON) (1971)

“LET IT BE” (THE BEATLES) (1970)

Casey, take us home, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!”

I appreciate you taking time to check out my fun little walk down memory lane.

Anthony

*Okay, since I ❤️❤️❤️ LISTS & COUNTDOWNS, I’m really sharing my 101 favorites!

Why 101? There were “101 Dalmatians”! 🙂

#101 “SO MANY MEN, SO LITTLE TIME” (MIQUEL BROWN) (1983)

#100 “LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER” (THE CAPTAIN & TENNILLE) (1975)

#99 “DREAM WEAVER” (GARY WRIGHT) (1975)

#98 “KISS AN ANGEL GOOD MORNIN'” (CHARLEY PRIDE) (1971)

#97 “OBJECT OF MY DESIRE” (STARPOINT) (1985)

#96 “EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE” (THE POLICE) (1983)

#95 “ANOTHER SAD LOVE SONG” (TONI BRAXTON) (1993)

#94 “I’LL TUMBLE 4 YA” (CULTURE CLUB) (1983)

#93 “CHAINS” (PATTY LOVELESS) (1989)

#92 “FAITH” (GEORGE MICHAEL) (1987)

#91 “HIGHER LOVE” (STEVE WINWOOD & CHAKA KHAN) (1986)

#90 “CAN’T FIGHT FATE” (TAYLOR DAYNE) (1989)

#89 “SAD SONGS (SAY SO MUCH)” (ELTON JOHN) (1984)

#88 “EDGE OF SEVENTEEN” (STEVIE NICKS) (1982)

#87SAY YOU, SAY ME” (LIONEL RICHIE) (1985)

#86 “IT MATTERS TO ME” (FAITH HILL) (1995)

#85 “DO YOU REALLY WANT TO HURT ME?” (CULTURE CLUB) (1982)

#84 “I KNEW YOU WERE WAITING (FOR ME)” (ARETHA FRANKLIN & GEORGE MICHAEL) (1987)

#83 “JESSIE’S GIRL” (RICK SPRINGFIELD) (1981)

#82 “EXCEPT FOR MONDAY” (LORRIE MORGAN) (1991)

#81 “LOUISIANA WOMAN, MISSISSIPPI MAN” (CONWAY TWITTY & LORETTA LYNN) (1973)

#80 “I LOVE ROCK & ROLL” (JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS) (1982)

“I LOVE ROCK & ROLL” (BRITNEY SPEARS) (2002)

#79 “HEAVEN’S JUST A SIN AWAY” (THE KENDALLS) (1977)

#78 “OPEN YOUR HEART” (MADONNA) (1986)

#77 “WITH EVERY BEAT OF MY HEART” (TAYLOR DAYNE) (1989)

#76 “TAKE ME AS I AM” (FAITH HILL) (1994)

#75 “1999” (PRINCE) (1982)

#74 “MAMMA MIA” (ABBA) (1975)

#73 “I CAN DREAM ABOUT YOU” (DAN HARTMAN) (1984)

#72 “EMPTY GARDEN (HEY HEY JOHNNY)” (ELTON JOHN) (1982)

#71 “ONLY IN MY MIND” (REBA McENTIRE) (1985)

#70 “NO MORE WORDS” (BERLIN) (1984)

#69 “WEST END GIRLS” (THE PET SHOP BOYS) (1984)

#68 “MAGIC” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1980)

#67 “I GUESS THAT’S WHY THEY CALL IT THE BLUES” (ELTON JOHN) (1984)

#66 “I RAN (SO FAR AWAY) (A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS) (1982)

#65 “TRUE” (SPANDAU BALLET) (1983)

#64 “IS THERE SOMETHING I SHOULD KNOW?” (DURAN DURAN) (1983)

#63 “DREAMLOVER” (MARIAH CAREY) (1993)

#62 “THIS WOMAN AND THIS MAN” (CLAY WALKER) (1995)

#61 “COLD HEARTED” (PAULA ABDUL) (1989)

#60 “COME GO WITH ME” (EXPOSE) (1987)

#59 “IT’S NOT RIGHT BUT IT’S OKAY” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1999)

#58 “YOU GOT IT (THE RIGHT STUFF) (NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK) (1988)

#57 “FLASHDANCE (WHAT A FEELING)” (IRENE CARA) (1983)

#56 “FRIENDS & LOVERS” (GLORIA LORING & CARL ANDERSON) (1986)

#55 “SUNGLASSES AT NIGHT” (COREY HART) (1984)

#54 “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY” (JANET JACKSON) (1986)

#53 “LOOKING FOR A NEW LOVE” (JODY WATLEY) (1987)

#52 “DANCING ON THE CEILING” (LIONEL RICHIE) (1986)

#51 “LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE BOY” (DENIECE WILLIAMS) (1984)

#50 “IF YOU LOVE ME (LET ME KNOW)” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1974)

#49 “MAKING LOVE OUT OF NOTHING AT ALL” (AIR SUPPLY) (1983)

#48 “(THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU” (THE CARPENTERS) (1970)

#47 “LET ME BE THERE” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1973)

#46 “HOW WILL I KNOW” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1985)

#45 “WHAT MADE YOU SAY THAT” (SHANIA TWAIN) (1993)

#44 “KARMA CHAMELEON” (CULTURE CLUB) (1983)

#43 “BLAME IT ON YOUR HEART” (PATTY LOVELESS) (1993)

#42 “TOO SHY” (KAJAGOOGOO) (1983)

#41 “BELIEVE” (CHER) (1998)

#40 “THE REFLEX” (DURAN DURAN) (1984)

#39 “FOREVER YOUR GIRL” (PAULA ABDUL) (1989)

#38 “WIND BENEATH MY WINGS” (BETTE MIDLER) (1989)

#37 “I’LL BE YOUR SHELTER” (TAYLOR DAYNE) (1990)

#36 “KIDS IN AMERICA” (KIM WILDE) (1981)

Vanessa Williams Still Reigns

Today, the gorgeous and talented Vanessa Williams is celebrating a birthday!

Happy Birthday Vanessa, you are and will always be Miss America!!!

I’ve had her 2012 book with her mother, Helen Williams, for years and finally got around to reading it.  And, it was incredible!  I didn’t want it to end.

It’s called “You Have No Idea:  A Famous Daughter, Her No-Nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other)”.

You Have No Idea

One of my favorite quotes from Vanessa from the book: “When I venture out, it’s with my girlfriends or my gay friends or even my priest friend.  I tease Father Edwards, ‘when I asked God for the perfect man, I should have been more specific!'”

You definitely have to check it out!

Now, I’m sure most of you know that Williams became the first black Miss America in 1983.

Vanessa-Williams-Crowned-Miss-America

Then, in the summer of 1984, innocent, artistic nude photos she’d posed for years earlier surfaced.

Sadly, on July 23, 1984, Williams relinquished her crown.

Leading up to this, I was hoping she wouldn’t give in to make it easy on the Miss America pageant and organization.

In the 1980s, there were only two pop culture events that saddened me to shed a few tears and this was one of them.  (The other was Madonna’s marriage to Sean Penn!)

MY FAVORITE VANESSA WILLIAMS SONGS

I was a huge fan of Vanessa’s music from the very beginning (in 1988) with her first single and album, “The Right Stuff”.

Vanessa-Williams---The-Right-Stuff-single-cover

So, in honor of her birthday, I’m counting down my 13 favorite Vanessa Williams songs.

Why 13?  It’s my favorite number! 🙂

13

“BETCHA NEVER”

12

“DREAMIN'”

11

“WHO WERE YOU THINKIN’ BOUT?”

10

“I’LL BE GOOD TO YOU”

9

“WORK TO DO”

8

“THE COMFORT ZONE”

#7 CD

“HAPPINESS”

6

“RUNNING BACK TO YOU”

5

“LOVE IS”

4

“FREEDOM DANCE (GET FREE!)”

#3 CD

“THE SWEETEST DAYS”

#2 MOVIE

“SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST”

Before I reveal my favorite Vanessa Williams song, I want to include two bonus tracks.

She’s released two stellar Christmas albums, “Star Bright” (1996) and “Silver & Gold” (2004).

Vanessa Williams

I’ve never gotten to see Vanessa in concert, but I’d love to see a Las Vegas residency holiday show!

Holiday Bonus

And, now my favorite Vanessa Williams song!

#1

“THE RIGHT STUFF”

Happy Birthday again Vanessa!

Here’s to many more enjoyable celebrations!

Anthony

A Little “Name Dropping” Just For Fun

In life, there are times when we luck out and run into a “celebrity”.  It might be on vacation, at a county or state fair, or just a random encounter.

As a television meteorologist, my job is a public and high profile position (if you’re lucky and people watch the news and your channel!).

That wasn’t the case for me in Salisbury, Maryland.  No one watched my channel and I was never recognized in public in the year-and-a-half there!  However, I was much more well-known in the Quad Cities after 11.5 years and people did recognize me in Panama City, Florida.

I don’t buy into that whole “you’re a celebrity” thing, yet my career has given me better access to some big names in the world of entertainment and politics.

Celebrity.jpg

It’s also presented some not so fun moments.

In Lubbock, Texas, I was thrown against a car by an irate man and another time, I was likely urinated on in a crowd of Marilyn Manson fans after his concert while doing my live report (I felt a warm wetness on my leg while talking)!

MM.gif

And, in the Youngstown, Ohio, market, I was first on the scene of a shooting inside a car outside a school and had to look at the body until police covered it.  (At that point, we didn’t know if it was a murder or suicide.)

But, back to the positives.  For today’s blog, I’m “name dropping”!  Some of these people I met through work and some through sheer luck!

I’m going to start off with the three that mean the most to me, so these are not in chronological order of when I met them.

On a cold January morning in 2016 in Davenport, Iowa, I made my way through the crowd and got to say hello to former Secretary of State and former First Lady Hillary Clinton.

Hillary AP

Some people even thought this was photo-shopped and then I point out that her hand is on my shoulder! 🙂

The highlight of my move to Panama City, Florida, was meeting my childhood idol, President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

In July 2017, I got up in the middle of the night and drove almost four hours through the backwoods of Florida, Alabama and Georgia to Plains, Georgia, to hear President Carter give a sermon at his church.

Autograph Carters

After getting back home, I sent the Carters a “70th Anniversary” card with our photo.  I was totally shocked when they sent it back to me — autographed!

I’ve told this story many times, but I’ll tell it again.  As an 12-year-old in Mayfield, Kentucky, in 1976, I got to go into the voting booth with my grandmother and pull the lever for Jimmy Carter.  I did it again in 1980!

In April 2005, I was living in Salisbury, Maryland and working for the ABC affiliate.  We also broadcast the CW network that aired the “Reba” comedy series.

Reba Anthony 2005

To kick off her tour that spring in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we took a bus with twenty viewers to see that cold, windy outdoor show.  Two of those lucky people (and me) got to go backstage and meet Reba.

She was just as you’d imagine her to be — sweet and delightful.  Here are the framed memories of that night.

Reba Art

And, in 2014, I took my first awkward selfie with Shania Twain in Las Vegas, when she walked out into the crowd!

AP Shania

As I name drop the people I’ve been fortunate to meet, I so wished that we had had smartphones earlier than we did.  I could have had photos of the others that I’ve met. 🙂

THE SOS BAND — 1984

In 1984, while a student at Murray State University in western Kentucky, I was doing the nightly weather on the campus television station and I started a music countdown show called “Music Visions”.

The first “celebrity” that I got to meet for the show and in my life was the group, The SOS Band, which was in concert at Murray State.

You might remember them from their #3 Billboard Hot 100 hit, “Take Your Time (Do It Right)”.

PAULA ABDUL —  LAS VEGAS, NEVADA — DECEMBER 2019

When I was last in Las Vegas this past December, not only did I get to see Paula Abdul’s great “Forever Your Girl” residency, I got a hug from her as she passed through the crowd during that song! 🙂

LIONEL RICHIE — LAS VEGAS — DECEMBER 2017

I met Lionel before his concert and when I said “Hello” (get it?) and extended my hand, he grabs me and says, “I’m a hugger!”

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MADELEINE ALBRIGHT — First Female U. S. Secretary of State (in President Bill Clinton’s administration)

In 1999, while working as a reporter and weathercaster in Youngstown, Ohio, I interviewed Secretary of State Albright.   She was so gracious and kind and, at the time, she was the highest ranking political figure I’d ever met.

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I interviewed her about several things, but we focused on Serbian President Slobodan Milošević.

Once I got back to the station, I practiced saying his name over and over so that it’d roll off my tongue easily when I did my live report.

It did. But, then I flubbed an English word that followed next! 🙂

MARTHA LAYNE COLLINS —  MAYFIELD, KENTUCKY — 1983

I met Collins while she was campaigning for her successful bid to become the first (and only) female Kentucky Governor.

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LEANN RIMES — SALISBURY, MARYLAND — NOVEMBER 2005

LeAnn is so sweet and adorable!

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RANDY TRAVIS — RHINELANDER, WISCONSIN — JULY 1996

This was an interesting meeting during Rhinelander’s “Hodag Music Festival” at my first real television job.

It was a little awkward because Randy was so kind and talkative and the whole time, his ex-wife/manager watched us like a hawk!

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RHETT AKINS — LUBBOCK, TEXAS — 1997

Rhett and I share the same birthday, even though I’m older.  I interviewed him a school where he was reading to students.

By the way, he’s the father of current country music superstar Thomas Rhett!

Akins scored his first Top 5 hit in 1995 with “That Ain’t My Truck”!

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LEE ANN WOMACK — LUBBOCK, TEXAS — 1997

I met Lee Ann as her first two singles were moving up the country charts.  While I love her music and I saw her in concert years later opening for Reba, her demeanor was very short and curt that day.

I was hoping that she was just having a bad day.  However, throughout the years, while talking with others in the business, she must have had many bad days when it came to reporters and interviews!

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GARY ALLAN — LUBBOCK, TEXAS — 1997

Not only was Gary dreamy and so kind in the interview early in the day, I saw him at his show that night.

After the show, he told me that got a laugh out of the fact that people stopped him in K-Mart before the show after seeing our interview on the news! 🙂

LONESTAR — LUBBOCK, TEXAS — 1997

Luckily, I interviewed Richie McDonald and Dean Sams and I didn’t have to even see close-minded homophobe John Rich!

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BRAD PAISLEY — CANFIELD, OHIO — 2001

Interviewing Brad Paisley 2001

THE BAND PERRY — DAVENPORT, IOWA — AUGUST 2012

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FAITH HILL — RHINELANDER, WISCONSIN — JULY 1996

Anthony & Faith Hill

TIM McGRAW — RHINELANDER, WISCONSIN — JULY 1996

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PAM TILLIS — BETTENDORF, IOWA — NOVEMBER 2012

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PAM TILLIS & LORRIE MORGAN — CLINTON, IOWA — JUNE 2014

Anthony, Pam, & Lorrie

TRACY LAWRENCE — LUBBOCK, TEXAS (1997) & DAVENPORT, IOWA (2011)

I first interviewed Tracy when I was working in Lubbock, Texas.  We crossed paths again when I got to introduce him at a concert at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport, Iowa.

Both times, he was warm and down-to-earth!

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NEAL McCOY  — RHINELANDER, WISCONSIN — JULY 1996

EMILIO — RHINELANDER, WISCONSIN — JULY 1996

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TY ENGLAND — RHINELANDER, WISCONSIN — 1996

Ty England

STEPHANIE BENTLEY — RHINELANDER, WISCONSIN — 1996

Stephanie Bentley

DAVID KERSH — LUBBOCK, TEXAS — 1997

David was such a sweet person (and no I didn’t say “Goodnight Sweetheart” to him) and was very grateful for the television exposure.

Sadly, after a string of hits from 1996-1998, he had to take time off in 1999 for vocal strain and left the music business in 2005.

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TARA DAWN HOLLAND — Miss America 1997 — LUBBOCK, TEXAS

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CAROL CHANNING — LUBBOCK, TEXAS — 1997

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DEE DEE MYERS  — Bill Clinton’s press secretary in 1993 & 1994 

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C. EVERETT KOOP, Surgeon General, 1992-1999

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KAY BAILEY HUTCHINSON, Republican Texas U.S. Senator & PHIL GRAMM, Republican Texas U.S. Senator

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ED RENDELL, former Pennsylvania Governor

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DENISE BROWN, sister of Nicole Simpson, O.J. Simpson’s murdered wife

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JIM TRESSEL, former Ohio State University and Youngstown State University football coach

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MOLLY SIMS — And, before any of these celebrities I’ve met through my career, I worked at a college textbook company in Murray, Kentucky, for the Sims family.  Their adolescent daughter was always around in the warehouse.

 
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Molly Sims would go on to become a model and staple on MTV.

WISHFUL THINKING!

Outside of music, I still want to meet Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”)

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Gillian Anderson (“The X-Files” and “Hannibal”)

Gillian Anderson

and Laura Linney (“Ozark” and “Tales of the City” series)!

Mary Ann

Now, there are four other singers that I’ve seen in concert a total of ten times, but I’ve never gotten to meet them.

It’ll have to be luck if I ever do!

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I’ve seen Madonna four times…

Madonna

Lady Gaga three times…

Gaga Las Vegas

Britney Spears twice…

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and Mariah Carey once!

MC ALL I WANT VEGAS

So, tell me who you’ve met!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — August 2

Happy weekend!  I’m ready to enjoy it since I have a six-day work week next week and off only one day next weekend.  I hope you have fun plans since the weather is going to be closer to average for summer.  Maybe we’ll brave the recent chill and jump in the pool even if it’s cool!!!!  Here are my random thoughts for this Friday.

THERE IS HOPE!

While I’m taking this response by Pope Francis with a grain of salt, it’s encouraging.  This is huge because the Catholic Church still considers homosexuality a sin.

Pope Francis

What a far cry from his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.  In 2005, Benedict XVI wrote that being gay was “a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil” and that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” should not become priests.

And, I admit that while I was writing this, I read several different accounts of what the Pope said and what commentators thought it meant, including one from Fox News!  OMG, I’m mentioning Fox News and I’m not going to make a snarky comment about it!

Father Jonathan Morris, a Fox News contributor, writes, “When Pope Francis says “who am I to judge” he is saying—and I think we need to hear more of this from religious leaders—that active homosexuals deserve the same kindness, love, and mercy that all of us sinners would hope to receive from God and from others.”

What I take away from that is that we’re all sinners and we all deserve to treated with love and respect.  It starts with you, it starts with me, and it starts with our enemies!

POLITICIAN OR JUST BUTT-HEAD’s FRIEND?

Is it just me or is there a strong resemblance between former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner and Beavis, one of the stars of the late-1990s MTV smash, “Beavis and Butt-Head”?

InStyle Golden Globe After Party

It seems that the disgraced politician that was forced to resign from office two years ago this summer after sending sexually suggestive pictures and tweets has more than looks in common with Beavis.

The trio (with Butt-Head) are obsessed with sex and they don’t care who knows.  It appears that Weiner is up to his old tricks and sending out explicit pictures under the alias “Carlos Danger”, which is now diminishing his chances of becoming the next mayor of New York City.

Here’s a funny flashback in honor of Weiner’s similar physical similarities with Beavis.  NSFW (not suitable/safe for work for those scratching their heads)!

RUSSIA’S ANTI-GAY STANCE IS TURNING MORE VIOLENT

The situation in Russia is getting out of hand and becoming more dangerous.

Two weeks ago, in my “Random Friday Thoughts — July 19” blog, I wrote, “The new law that was signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and went into effect June 30th allows the government to arrest or detain gay or “pro-gay” foreigners for up to two weeks before expelling them from the country.”

Russian Extremists Attacks

Now, Russian extremists are creating fake profiles on social media outlets and gay personal ads to attract unsuspecting people and then brutally beating, humiliating, sexually violating them and posting the disgusting pictures online!

The new law and the violence are prompting some groups to ask for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics Games in Sochi, Russia.

Boycott Sochi 2014

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been talking with the Russian government about how the new law will affect LGBT athletes and sports fans coming to Russia and it says, “To that end, the IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.”

However, that doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

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Vitaly Valentinovich Milonov, a member of the legislative assembly of the city and region around St. Petersburg, Russia, who co-authored the law that Putin signed into effect, says that the President must “refrain from selective enforcement”.

He added, “I haven’t heard any comments from the government of the Russian Federation, but I know that it is acting in accordance with Russian law.  And if a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it. It doesn’t have the authority.”

AVOIDING RUSSIAN VODKA

While no decision will be made about the Winter Olympics any time soon, several gay bars around the country, including Sidetrack in Chicago, have stopped serving the Russian vodka, Stolichnaya.   Some of London’s biggest gay bars have pulled Stoli from their shelves, too.

Stoli

From West Hollywood, California, to New York City, politicians, bar owners, and bartenders are having ceremonies where they are pouring out their Stoli supply.

Stoli Boycott

This isn’t making the CEO of Stoli, Val Mendeleev, very happy.    He says, “Stoli has been a friend of the LGBT community and has been an opponent of the Russian government.  Stoli was singled out by the community with which we associated in a way that we don’t believe was appropriate. If you look at our relationship with the Russian government, we’ve been boycotted by the Russian government for the past 10 years. We’ve been threatened, raided. And now we are being boycotted by the LGBT community.”

Vodkas

On a vodka note closer to home (my house), I checked the 40 different vodkas we have and none of them are Russian vodkas!

ACTRESS TILDA SWINTON WANTS YOUR HELP

Academy Award winning actress Tilda Swinton  wants everyone to share this picture of her holding up a rainbow flag in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Russia.

Tilda Swinton Moscow

She risked being arrested by doing this and she says, “In solidarity. From Russia with love”.

BEST COMEDY I’VE SEEN IN YEARS!

Last Sunday, Ray and I walked to the cheap theater down the road and saw “This Is The End” and I’m so glad I didn’t wait until October 1st for it to come out on DVD.

The $32 million comedy has already grossed more than $107 million!  In the movie, many of Hollywood’s hottest stars (and some singers, Rihanna) play altered versions of themselves.  It totally skewers actors and Hollywood.

This Is The End

I love James Franco and I love him even more after this movie.  Just from the roles he takes, I gather he’s a very intelligent freak in real life.  And, in the movie, he plays the self-centered, often rumored to be gay, role to the max.

While rated “R”, I’m very surprised that the movie was not released as “unrated”.  I can’t wait until it comes out on DVD to see if there is a “Director’s Cut”.  But, then again, I can’t imagine what could have been cut out since it was so raunchy and over-the-top.

Oh, what’s it about?  James Franco is throwing a fun Hollywood party complete with stars, drugs, alcohol, and sex.  Armageddon begins and Hollywood is basically destroyed by wildfires, an earthquake, an alien invasion, and a very promiscuous and well-endowed demon!  And, in the final scene, there’s a performance in heaven that will take you back to the late-1990s.  It’ll either make you smile (I did) or cringe.

This is the movie that “Ted” could have been.  There is talk of a sequel, but I think that “This is the End” is perfect enough to watch over and over without having a part two.  However, I’d definitely see if it James Franco is in it.  If you’ve seen the movie, it’s possible.  It’s Hollywood!

I rarely laugh out loud in movie theaters, but this one had me in stitches.

GRADE:  A

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

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 NEW MUSIC FROM THE JONAS BROTHERS

The Jonas Brothers are back on the radio with their latest hit, “First Time”.

Nick Jonas

The youngest Jo Bro, Nick, posted this sexy snapshot on Instagram earlier this week.  The 20-year-old singer added, “I never do this, but …  Healthy living and fitness update. Post workout picture. #diabeticinshape #2.0.”

What was I saying about the Jonas Brothers?  Who cares!
Dream

THE WOMAN OF MY DREAMS

In my lifetime, only two female celebrities have made me cry because of their real-life situations.  I must have been a sensitive boy because the first occurred on July 23, 1984 when Miss America Vanessa Williams was pressured into giving up her crown because of some racy pictures that had surfaced of her.

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It turned out okay because she went on to become an award-winning singer and actress.

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The other tears fell on Madonna’s 27th birthday on August 16, 1985, when she married Sean Penn.

Madonna Sean Wedding

Thirty years ago this fall, yes that’s 3-0, I started my freshman year at Murray State University and became a television weather man for the first time.  It doesn’t matter that the college campus television station was only broadcast on the cable systems in Murray and Mayfield, Kentucky.   Mayfield, my hometown, is only 22 miles from Murray.

That fall, I met my first pseudo-boyfriend (“pseudo” because we never said we were dating, only hanging out), enjoyed Pagliai’s Pizza (the best pizza I had ever eaten — at the time.  Now, it’s Wise Guys Pizza in Davenport, Iowa), and I met the girl of my dreams at Sunset Boulevard Music, the local record store.

It’s hard to believe that it was 30 years ago this week that Madonna’s first album, simply titled “Madonna” came out.

Madonna 1983 Album

She had already had two dance hits that reached #3 before her first radio hit, “Holiday” peaked #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1984.  However, I bought the album before most of mainstream America knew who she was.  And, now she’s one of the most iconic singers and entertainers on the planet!

Madonna, thank you for the 30 years of music and fun.  And, thank you for spending my last birthday with me in Las Vegas!

“UNDER THE DOME”

Under The Dome

If you haven’t started watching this incredible show on CBS, you have to get on board.  Last Monday’s episode was the best of the six that have aired.  And, here’s a spoiler — it can rain inside the dome!

Now is the time to catch up if you’re not watching because it was just renewed for a second season!

MORE MOTHER MONSTER NEWS — ARTWORK & SINGLE REVEALED

I’m sure between now and the August 19th premiere of the new Lady Gaga single AND video from her forthcoming “ARTPOP” album in November, there will be new things revealed weekly to get Little Monsters excited.  This week Lady Gaga released the single artwork and the name of her new single — “Applause”.

Applause

Lady Gaga says it’s going to be a happy song.  However, it hasn’t been revealed whether it’s a fast or mid-tempo dance number or a slow song.  I’m thinking it’ll be mid-tempo.  This other revealing promotional picture of Gaga also came out this week!

Lady Gaga

EXCITEMENT BUILDING FOR FALL

In addition to the new music from Gaga, I’m also excited that the new Britney Spears CD comes out in the next few months, too.  Also, Madonna’s “MDNA Tour” that I saw in Las Vegas last October on my birthday comes out on DVD in early September.

And, that isn’t the only Madonna news.  She’s being very secretive about a new project with fashion photographer Steven Klein simply called “Secret Project”.  What is it about?  It sounds controversial and will likely push buttons.  But, it is Madonna!

THIS ONE COULDN’T WAIT FOR MONDAY’S “THEY SAID WHAT???”

Last week, I blogged about adorable Harry Styles of One Direction standing up to the Westboro Baptist Cult (oops, Church).  Now, in the new British “GQ”, the singer answers a question about his sexuality.

Harry British GQ

When told that there were rumours (it’s English, remember!) that he was dating British DJ Nick Grimshaw, Harry said, “Oh, really? I didn’t even know.  We’re not dating, no. We’re just friends.”

Harry was then asked if he was bisexual and he replied, “Bisexual? Me? I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure I’m not.”

Sweet!  Play it for what it’s worth.

PICK HIT

Latin heart-throb Enrique Iglesias is back and looking and sounding hotter than ever!  His latest song, “Turn The Night Up”, the first single from his upcoming November album is already a smash in the U.S.

Enrique Iglesias

You might not really know how big of a star the 38-year-old singer is.  I didn’t.

Since his first Latin hit in 1995, Enrique has sold more than 60 million albums and he holds the record for the most #1 singles on the Billboard Latin Tracks chart with 22 (his first eight releases all hit #1).

On the Billboard Hot 100, he’s already scored 12 Top 40 hits.  Of those, five have reached the Top 5, including his two #1 smashes, 1999’s “Bailamos” and 2000’s “Be With You”.

While an official video is expected in early August, Enrique released this fun fan video to promote the song.  I love it — the song, the video, and Enrique!

PEEPS’ ’80s FLASHBACK

Here’s something about Madonna again.  Wait, don’t stop reading!  Usually, on Friday, I feature one of my favorite ’80s songs.

Madonna1985

However, since it is Madonna’s 30th anniversary in the music industry, here is a video countdown of her biggest hits, as ranked by Billboard magazine.  And, yes, she’s had more Top Ten songs on the Billboard Hot 100 than the Beatles!!!!!

Check out the countdown in this link of her 20 biggest hits.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/whos-that-girl-thats-had-more-top-10-hits-than-the-beatles/

Anthony

Peeps’ Friday ’80s Flashbacks

It’s Friday morning and the weekend is almost here.   I hope you have a great one.  I will be emceeing a fashion show fundraiser today for a local hospital.  Since it isn’t a Christmas show, maybe they’ll chose one of my favorite ’80s songs.  Here are three more that I loved in the best decade of music.

“Together Forever”  — Rick Astley

English heart throb Rick Astley scored seven Top 40 American hits on the Billboard Hot 100.  Of those, five went to the top ten.

He hit #1 with his first two songs, “Never Gonna Give You Up” (1987) and this one, “Together Forever” in 1988.  He also hit the top ten two more times in 1988  with “It Would Take A  Strong Strong Man” (#10) and “She Wants To Dance With Me” (#6).

While he would have three more hits, only one, “Cry For Help” in 1991 would reach the top ten (#7).  His other two, “Giving Up On Love” (#38, 1989) and “Hopelessly (#28, 1993) barely made the Top 40.

He would singing backing vocals on Elton John’s #1 award-winning song, “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” from “The Lion King”.

“The Right Stuff”  — Vanessa Williams

Singer, actress, and model Vanessa Williams became the first African-American to earn the Miss America crown in 1983.  When nude photos of her began circulating and “Penthouse” published them, there was so much uproar that on July 23, 1984, she gave up the title, but not the crown!!  Honestly, at the time, I was 19-years-old and I was so mad that she was giving in to the pressure that I cried. 🙂  There was only one other time in pop culture that I shed a tear:  When Madonna married Sean Penn in 1985.

Vanessa Williams’ first song, “The Right Stuff” is still one of my favorites.  However, while it only reached #44 on the Hot 100, it did top the Billboard Dance chart.

Her next single, “Dreamin'” would make it to #8 in 1989.  That was followed by six more Top 40 hits on the Hot 100 through 1995.  Her biggest commercial hits were “Save The Best For Last” (#1, 1992), “Love Is” (a duet with Brian McKnight that reached #3 in 1993), and “Colors of the Wind” from the “Pocahontas” soundtrack in 1995 that reached #4.

“The Sweetest Days” from 1994 is another one of my favorites.  It hit #18.

Vanessa has also appeared in two movies that I love, “Soul Food” and “A Diva’s Christmas Carol”.  After years on “Ugly Betty” and “Desperate Housewives”, she has a new ABC show, “666 Park Avenue” this fall.

Anthony