Before crooner Johnny Gill began serenading fans and overwhelming women with his gifted harmonies at the October incarnation of “ATL Live on the Park,” an enormously popular radio and TV personality helped the throngs of mostly female music fans celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month at the Park Tavern in Midtown Atlanta.
Former “Rickey Smiley Morning Show” co-host Ebony Steele brought the room to a standstill with her powerful and poignant testimony of her life-changing — and body altering — journey of coming through the horrifying ordeal of breast cancer.
“When I started in radio, I said to myself, ‘Okay, Ebony, you’re funny; you’re this and that’,” she began. “But I felt like my purpose was incomplete,” but then found that she had a national platform to discuss fighting breast cancer.
“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I must be honest and tell you that I was embarrassed, I thought it was an old, white woman’s disease,” she said. ““And I knew that my purpose was not just to be on radio and hee-hee and ka-ka. It was to inform women about something that is real.’ Because breast cancer isn’t what kills people,” Steel continued. “It’s undetected, undiagnosed breast cancer that kills women.”
“I tell you, seven years ago, I didn’t’ feel like this. I didn’t look like this. I don’t care if you take pictures. My [breasts] may look a little off. They may look a little shifty. But this is me, this is my life and I feel great about it,” she said to thunderous applause coupled with slight sobs. “I am still standing here as a seven-year breast cancer survivor,” Steel added as she presented the “Still Standing Award” to Dee Dee Murray, a recent breast cancer survivor as her daughter, an honors grad from the University of Georgia, accompanied her mother onstage.
Before the night began, Johnny Gill and music impresario Shanti Das hosted a private listening party in an exclusive area of the Park Tavern. Gill, 31-year music veteran who still performs around the globe with New Edition and owns his own music label, was able to floss his new single, “Behind Closed Doors,” during the media question-and-answer session as well as discuss the titillating contents of his upcoming album, which will be released Dec. 9
And after a very enjoyable musical experience by the evenings artistic guests — L Young, Timothy Bloom and Devon Stephon — Gill swayed the ladies with renditions of the classic cuts that made him a household name and recognized as a renowned baby-making singer in urban America.
Take a look at the photographic highlights from the “ATL Live on the Park,” October 2014 edition.